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Hong Kong Tramways

Hong Kong Double Decker Tram

Hong Kong Tramways (香港電車 pinyin xiang1 guang3 dian4 che1) is one of the two tramways in the world which provide regular operation of double-decker trams.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Operation
3 Modern Operation
4 Costs
5 Timeline of Tramways History
6 External link


The electric tram system was proposed in 1881; however nobody was willing to invest in a system at the time. In August 1901, the Second Tramway Bill was introduced and passed into law as the 1902 Tramway Ordinance. Hong Kong Tramway Electric Company Limited, a British Company, was authorized to take the responsibilities in construction and daily operation. It was soon taken over by another company, Electric Tranction Company of Hong Kong Limited and then the name was changed to Hong Kong Tramways Company Limited in 1910.

In 1922, a new company, Hong Kong Tramway Limited (HKT), was founded to take over and operate the system. The Tramway Ordinance of 1902 had awarded a 25 year operating mandate, which was then extended to a 50-year-contract and officially expired on May 23, 1952. Due to the extension of the mandate, the Hong Kong Government had the chance to purchase the tramway at 5 year intervals provided always that 6 months notice of such intention is given. In 1974, Hong Kong Tramways became part of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company Ltd. and now operates under the Wharf Transport Investments Ltd.

The Hong Kong Tramways system was built from May 1903 (see timeline below). After equipment testing, the electric tram began operation on July 30, 1904, making the Hong Kong Tramways one of the oldest public transport systems still in operation. At that time the main route went along the northern waterfront of the Hong Kong Island from Arsenal Street in Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣 pinyin tong2 luo2 wan1) to Shau Kei Wan, with a branch serving Happy Valley. Shortly after the line was extended westards to Kennedy Town. The length of the route was 15km as same as that of today, except for track relocations and the extension of the Happy Valley branch in 1914. Originally constructed with both single and double track sections, the last single track section was eliminated in August 1949. The reserved track was introduced along Queensway from 1955.


The rail system is 13 kilometres long and it runs together with other vehicles on the street. Its operation relies on the 550V alternating current (a.c.) from the overhead cables. The trams provide service to only part of Hong Kong: they run on a double track along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan, with a single track of about 3 kilometres around Happy Valley Racecourse. There are a total of nine overlapping routes.

Route map

The tram service starts at 06:00 and ends at 01:00 every day. On average, the interval between each tram is approximately 5 minutes.

Hong Kong Double Decker Tram With Air-conditioning

The tram fleet was first composed of 26 single-deck trams with bodies of 29 feet long and 6 feet and 1 inch wide imported from England. However, they were quickly removed because of the rapid modernisation programmes. These tramcars were replaced by open-top double-deck tramcars from 1912 onwards. The introduction of permanent roofs to all fleets in 1923 was a big improvement on the system. In 1960s, the design of adding a trailer at the back of the double decker trams was propsed due to the increasing population and demands. In December 1964, 10 trailers were ordered from England and were assembled to the trams in Hong Kong in early 1965. The trailers served as the first class of the trams. This type of tram was adbicated at the end of 1966 since the trailers produced so much noise when moving.

Modern Operation

The Hongkong Tramways Ltd now owns a total of 164 double-decker trams, that makes the only fully double-decker tram fleet in the world, including two open-balcony trams (#28, 128) for tourists and private hire and one special maintenance tram (#200). Most of the trams are old-styled and only have slide windows, but in 2000, three new modern trams started operation and the majority of the new trams is simply green and white. These new trams are more comfortable than the old ones.

Classical Tram Stop Sign

There are seven terminal points at Kenndy Town, Whitty Street, Western Market, Causeway Bay, North Point, Shau Kei Wan and Happy Valley respectively. In between these terminal points, there are several stops: Sogo stop at Causeway Bay, Pacific Place stop at Admiralty, Prince's Building and Landmark stop at Central at the West-bound, World Wide House stop at Central, Pacific Place stop at Admiralty, Pereival St. and Sogo stop at Causeway Bay at the East-bound. Travelling in the lower deck of the tram allows travellers to have a close up about the local street life, while occupying the front seats of the upper decker gives good views of the town as the tram rattles slowly.

Painted on the track are the Chinese words, 電車綫, (pinyin dian4 che1 cin3) which in English stands for tramway lane
Just like buses, trams in Hong Kong can be very crowded. The maximun capacity of each tramcar is 115 people. During the busier periods of the day, trams often stack up when there are many tramcars running on the railway lines at the same time. In 2002, the trams recorded an average of 240,000 passenger trips daily.


The tram is not only one of the oldest transport systems, but also one of the cheapest. The fares are HK$2 for adults, HK$1 for children under 12 and senior citizens aged 65 or above, and exact change is required. Unlike the other forms of public transport, the fares are fixed regardless of the distance travelled. Passengers deposit the exact fare into a box next to the driver upon alighting. Payment for the ride can be made using coins or via Octopus card.

As the trams move slowly, with a maximum speed of about 40 km per hour, they are comparatively safe. Only a few major accidents have occurred. In fact, according to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics department, up to the end of 2002, less than 10 traffic accidents which involved trams per year in average, meaning that the possibility of a tram being involved in an accident is very low.

Trams are not only a form of transport, but they have become a major tourist attraction in Hong Kong.

Timeline of Tramways History

See also: Transportation in Hong Kong

External link