Beacon Hill Tunnel, KCR, longest tunnel in China 1910

Hugh Farmer with thanks to IDJ  and Tymon Mellor for information and images. These come from The Engineer, 28th April 1911:-

“The Beacon Hill Tunnel – Kowloon Canton Railway.
Beacon Hill, about 1500ft in height, is part of a range of hills dividing Kowloon from the rest of the mainland. A tunnel through this hill was deemed necessary in connection with the railway from Kowloon to Canton, a distance of 100 miles. By reason of the Colony of Hong Kong being so intimately concerned with result of this project, the British Government undertook the construction of 23 miles of the line from Kowloon, the Chinese Government being responsible for the remaining length of the line to Canton.

This tunnel, which was completed in the early part of 1910, is of interest in that it is the longest existing tunnel in China, and the rate of progress compares favourably with tunnel construction in other parts of the world.”

Operations for the construction of a single-line tunnel of standard gauge were commenced towards the end of 1906. The tunnel is straight, 7,212ft.long, and is approached from the south by a two and a half degree curve.”

Beacon Hill Tunnel IDJ The Engineer article 2 photos

And this image has a different source: –

Beacon Hill Tunnel under construction c1908 Public Records Office, HK

Beacon Hill Tunnel under construction c1908
Public Records Office, HK

This article was first posted on 26th March 2014.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. The KCR – choices of routes, construction and opening
  2. 17 proposal to build KCR around the coast
  3. Kenneth Alfred Wolfe Barry, obituary, consultative work for the KCR early 1900s
  4. Ingham Sutcliffe, obituary, locomotive superintendent KCR 1915-1919
  5. KCR Whampoa Railway Siding
  6. The Kowloon Canton Railway (British Section) Part 1 – The Beginning, Three Possible Routes…
  7. The Kowloon Canton Railway (British Section) Part 2 – Construction
  8. The Kowloon-Canton Railway (British Section) Part 3 – the construction of Kowloon Station
  9. The Kowloon Canton Railway (British Section) Part 4 – The Early Years (1910 to 1940)
  10. The Kowloon Canton Railway (British Section) Part 5 – The Post War Years (1945 to 1978)
  11. The Kowloon – Canton Railway (British Section) Part 6 – Modernisation
  12. The Sha Tau Kok railway
  13. The Sha Tau Kok railway – further information
  14. Sha Tau Kok branch railway – 1986 account by RJ Phillips
  15. Tai Po Kau railway station – dramatic film!
  16. Tai Po Kau – KCR Station & Ferry Pier transport hub


  • James Chan

    Taken from:

    “Another 1980s abandonment was the original Beacon Hill Tunnel on the KCR.

    Opened in 1912 as a single track tunnel, a double track replacement was built a short distance to the west as part of the KCR modernisation and electrification program, while the original tunnel was reused to carry a gas pipeline through the mountain.”

    This modernisation seems to have taken place in the 1970s. Can the above be confirmed? And if so when exactly was the double track replacement built? And where exactly is the orginal tunnel?


  • Phil

    I think the modernisation started in 1974? The electrification went live (so to speak) in 1983 but when the old tunnel use ended I’m not sure.

    The tunnel is still there and if you walk up Cornwall Street it crosses the old track just before the petrol station. You can still see the tunnel entrance if you peer over the wall there. The physical track has gone of course but the ground where it ran is still there and serves as a (restricted) path to the old tunnel.

    • Thanks Phil

      I wonder why the orginal tunnel could know longer be used?

      Do you know about what remains of where the orginal tunnel exited on the northern side?


      • Phil

        Hi Hugh

        The original tunnel was only wide enough for one track, so when the system was changed to use two perhaps creating a new tunnel big enough for two tracks was easier than adapting the existing one?

        I know there are still traces of the track on the north side – in particular there is still part of the original bridge that can be seen next to its modern replacement at the bottom of Keng Hau Rd in Tai Wai. The problem at the moment is that I think some of the area is undergoing extensive reconstruction for the Shatin-Central link, so I don’t know if it is possible to even get near the northern entrance without permission from the KCR. There is a track that runs nearby but I’ve not walked along it and I don’t know how close it goes. Perhaps I shall wander up there one morning :-)


  • Alexander WONG

    As a young boy scout in 1966 I have the fortune of walking all those some 20 miles of KCR British Section with two companions. We took the last train to Sheung Shui and started walking South before midnight, we passed through this old Beacon Hill Railway Tunnel slightly up and then down and very stuffy (now we knew from above that there is a 2 degree curve) , reaching Yau Ma Tei Station before 0600 hours and before the First train due to start, the Station Master of Yau Ma Tei the late Mr. LIU Ting Fai who was also a Scoutmaster warmly received and welcomed us when we explained to him that we had walked all night from Sheung Shui that was why we had no train tickets for exiting the Yau Ma Tei Station ! I bet not many people had done that and it is impossible now with the new modern electric train and track.

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