Goodbye to the Long Bois

The longest urban trains in Hong Kong will be going away starting this year. They have been in a 12-car configuration since the 1990s.

The original Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) was a joint effort between British Hong Kong and Qing dynasty China, to have train services that do not stop at the border. Immigration and Customs facilities are present at both ends of the line.

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Aside from several interruptions in the early Communist era, this unique railway has been in continuous operation since 1910.

The line also accommodates a heavily used local route within Hong Kong. This runs urban metro trains like the rest of Hong Kong, and the service ends at the border where you then cross by foot.

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I’ve taken various videos but they’re all really old, so here is a decent YouTube compilation (yes, from 2012, but nothing has changed since then) of the 12-car local trains that will be retired. There are 2 types:

  • Metro Cammell 3-car “MLR” EMUs (four units coupled to a total of 12 cars), operating since 1983, facelifted in 1996
  • Itochu / Kinki Sharyo / Kawasaki 12-car “SP1900” EMUs, operating since 2001

For the lazy, both types appear at the very beginning. The rest is all the same. Taken at Fo Tan Station in Shatin, New Territories.

With the introduction of HSR services at the incredible new West Kowloon Station, demand on the original route will decrease. The retirement will begin this year and the 12-car trains will be replaced with all-new 9-car units coming from Rotem in Korea.

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The MLR trains are at end of life and will be scrapped. One car has been preserved in its original 1983 configuration.

The newer SP1900 trains have plenty of life left, so they will be reconfigured into 8-car sets to serve on other lines.

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After this change, Hong Kong’s local trains will only have 8- and 9-car configurations, which are the maximum lengths accommodated by new stations.

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