During the 1960s, the Hong Kong government had to accommodate increasing vehicular and pedestrian traffic of the city due to rapid economic growth.
British consultants Freeman Fox and Wilbur Smith Associates were employed to study the transport system of Hong Kong and to suggest ways to improve it. The study released by the consultants in 1967 proposed the construction of mass transit railway (MTR) system in Hong Kong. By 1970s, an underground network of four Lines were laid out; in addition, Kwun Tong Line, Tsuen Wan Line, Island Line and East Kowloon Line were added later at a total cost of HK$4.1 billion.
The Hong Kong MTR stations have similar design and available public facilities to Singapore’s MRT stations. Even though Hong Kong MTR stations are built for standard public functionality, the public rail stations are disabled-friendly. For example, there are dedicated spaces for people using wheel-chairs and for blind people via big entry and exit gates. Singapore MRT stations have many disabled-friendly facilities also and have clean toilets. The public toilets found at Hong
Kong MTR stations are often not as hygienic.
Hong Kong’s older MTR stations were functional edifices rather than aesthetically-satisfying buildings. In 1988, the Hong Kong government decided to change its policy by initiating the campaign ‘Art in MTR’. The MTR Corporation worked to make art a part of the MTR station architecture, especially in Hong Kong’s new MTR stations. Other than displaying artwork inside the large MTR stations, there have also been live performances and art exhibitions which make these MTR stations livelier places to frequent. The stations’ halls are spacious and can accommodate big crowds of passengers and visitors. In some new Hong Kong MTR stations, the buildings’ architecture is very artistic; oftentimes, older stations are renovated utilising smaller works of art to make them more attractive places.
The strategy of incorporating artistic elements into public railway facilities is meant to make the journey to and from their offices a pleasant experience for daily commuters.
Hong Kong’s MTR has also built special stations for Disneyland Resort’s Sunny Bay Station and Disneyland Resort Station. The Disneyland Resort Station has a combined concourse and platform in the form of an open landscaped arena. Both of these public rail stations have Disney-themed trains, exclusively designed for Disney Land Park. A similar project is underway in Singapore for the planned Sentosa Island Integrated Resort in Singapore.
Quick Facts: Hong Kong MTR
Began operation September 30, 1979
System length: 91.0 km or 56.5 miles
No. of Lines: 7
No. of stations: 53
Daily commuters: approx. 2.5 million (July 2006)
Track gauge: 1432 mm (near standard gauge)
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