Railway provision in Hong Kong – the geographical disparity

I’m taking three transport electives this semester and find it interesting to think about transport problems once a while (actually I’ve almost always been doing this). When it comes to essay topic – eureka! This is it – or maybe the statistical base for some bigger topic.

Yes, the geographical disparity of railway provision in Hong Kong – if you’re resident in the New Territories chances are that long commutes are an indivisible part of your daily routine, whether on a sardine-packed train or a bus stuck in the traffic. And as we Hongkongers all know but won’t always readily admit – the New Territories are inferior in terms of economic opportunities, transport infrastructure, … you name it.

Here is an analysis of railway provision across the 18 districts of Hong Kong, done on the basis of the planned 2031 railway network (search for “Railway Development Strategy 2014”) and the projected population by then. In the table below there are figures for the number of stations, internal segments and external segments (a segment being a section of the network between two stations) per 100000 people in each district. Here “people” is calculated by the average of residents and jobs (I have to take both into account to make things fair, but if I simply added them up I’ll double-count). Without further ado, the table: (click to access the pdf file)


The number of stations per 100000 people, visualised: (the deeper colour the higher share)

Main points:

  1. The traditional CBD districts (C&W, Wanchai, YTM) have a higher share than most districts
  2. Southern and Shatin have an exceptionally high share of stations for their population size; this is due to Ma On Shan Line and South Island Line which were built as medium-sized systems
  3. Islands District also has a higher share than many (Tung Chung is actually planned to house 250000 people and will have three stations, although here the population is forecast directly by overall population growth in Hong Kong; I’ve already excluded Airport and AsiaWorld Expo from the station count)
  4. Given Kwun Tong’s role as the second CBD, the share is disappointing (the upcoming Kai Tak EFTS will help things a bit, but no high hopes on that); not very surprising if you’ve seen the rush hour crowds at Kwun Tong Station by yourself?
  5. Those with the least share are all in the north and northwest; perhaps not surprisingly Tuen Mun has the least share? (Light Rail is not counted but it replaced the internal bus network wholesale at its inauguration, so fair enough)

Indeed, if you searched for the railway map of Hong Kong you’ll realise that the network by 2031 will still very much be a radial one, the only real cross-country link being the Northern Link straddling the borderlands. Tuen Mun will be having a new tunnel to Lantau in the near future but it’ll probably still be the “Land’s End” for most Hongkongers for decades to come.

Maybe it’d be great if the planners changed their mindset already and aim the New Towns at being full-fledged cities more or less on par with Kowloon or Victoria, instead of being “second-class bedroom communities”?


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