A new section of the city’s railway, Tuen Ma line phase 1, opened on Friday.
More than 100 people queued outside the newly opened Kai Tak MTR station to board the first train that departed at 5.45am. The line, connecting Wu Kai Sha and Kai Tak, is the first part of the HK$99.1 billion Sha Tin-Central link to open since construction began in June 2012.
Three new stations – Hin Keng Station, the expanded part of Diamond Hill Station and Kai Tak Station – were opened on Friday, cutting the journey time between Tai Wai and Diamond Hill stations from 17 minutes to 9 minutes, according to the MTR Corp.
A full journey on the new line takes 29 minutes, and the service will run at 3.5-minute intervals during the morning rush hour.
Train fans, some of whom arrived at Kai Tak station at 11pm the previous night to witness the Valentine’s Day launch, were handed a small box of chocolates, a purse, and a free ticket.
MTR facilities became regular targets of vandalism during the anti-government movement, which began last June. Protesters accused the rail operator of siding with the government by suspending services during disturbances, and of colluding with the police by letting officers into stations.
Form Four student Creeper Lam, 14, arrived at the station at 11pm on Thursday. He brought five smartphones with him to record videos of the journey – some in slow motion, others fast – which he planned to upload to his YouTube channel.
Asked if he was worried the new stations would be vandalised, he said: “I believe if the MTR does not do anything unpleasant to citizens, the protesters will not vandalise the facilities on a whim.”
Terry Tang, 45, joked that his first ride on the new line could be his last. “It’s likely that protesters might come to ‘renovate’ this place, and who knows if I’ll contract the [coronavirus] later?” he said.
The Tuen Ma line was initially planned to start operating last year, but was hit with several delays.
On July 18, 2019, it was announced that the Tuen Ma line would be opening in two phases. The entire Wu Kai Sha to Kai Tak section would be “Tuen Ma line phase 1”, while phase 2, from Kai Tak to Hung Hom, is expected to open by the end of this year or early next year.