The Light Rail Transit in Hong Kong

The Light Rail, also known as the Light Rail Transit (LRT), officially the North-West Railway, is a light rail system in Hong Kong, serving the northwestern New Territories, within Tuen Mun district and Yuen Long District. The system operates over 1,435mm (4 ft 8+1/2 in) standard gauge track, using 750 V DC overhead power supply. It was once one of four systems comprising the KCR network in Hong Kong, before the MTR-KCR merger in 2007. It has a daily ridership of about 483,000 people. (1)

Light Rail Transit Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Background on the System’s Construction
The northwest part of the New Territories of Hong Kong, which includes the new town of Tuen Mun, a developing market town, Yuen Long, and the Castle Peak Road corridor between the two towns, has been developing rapidly since the mid-1970s under the Hong Kong government’s new towns development program to cope with rapid population growth.

The idea of introducing an LRT system into the region dated back as far as 1972, when a commercial firm proposed building a circular tram route in Tuen Mun. This triggered a series of studies to determine the most appropriate transport system for the new town.  wide range of modes was initially screened, ranging from minibuses, buses, street trams, a light rail system, an automated guideway system, a conventional metro, and elevated monorail. Finally the government decided to provide an advanced light rail system to the new towns. Apart from such advantages as independence from fuel oil, better quality of service, and greater environmental compatibility, it was thought that a light rail system would help to promote the image of the new towns.

In November 1983 the government invited the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC), a public corporation running a passenger and freight heavy rail service, to build and operate the LRT, which by that time had developed conceptually from a Tuen Mun town system into a regional system for the whole northwestern New Territories, including a loop for another new town called Tin Shui Wai.

In July 1984 the KCRC accepted the offer to build the LRT system. KCRC was granted an exclusive right to provide the major public transport services (i.e. LRT and its feeder bus services) in the designated transit service area.

In August 1985 the KCRC awarded a turnkey contract of HK$1.1 billion to an Australian consortium of Leighton Contractors Asia Ltd. nd MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority of Victoria, Melbourne) to build and equip the first phase of the LRT project. Following an intense 3-year construction period, the 23-km Phase 1 system commenced commercial service on September18, 1988, managed and operated by the light rail division, one of KCRC’s business divisions.(2)


  1. Wikipedia
  2. HF: I do not know the exact source of this material. However it was written by Jonathan Yu with the article listed as Transportation Research Record 1361. I would be grateful if someone could provide further information about this article, titled LRT in Hong Kong’s New Suburbs.

This article was first posted on 21st March 2023.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. MTR, Explosive Draw at New Exhibition Station
  2. RAF – post WW2 involvement in restoring Kowloon to some order, plus the KCR and work on the proposed Ping Shan airfield
  3. The Peak Tram – how it works
  4. Hong Kong Tramways – Date of first full service

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *