East Rail Day - Day 6

by - 23:34

The cold weather continued on the 6th day of our trip, with temperatures hovering between 13-14 degrees Celsius on the day.

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AVBW63 carries a full body advertisement for a new residential development on Hong Kong Island. The destination sign of the bus had already been updated to the new terminal at To Wah Road, which would replace Wui Cheung Rd Terminal which was to be demolished to make way for the Guangzhou-Hong Kong high speed rail project.
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Meanwhile, 3ASV405 still has the name of the old terminal displayed as it speeds along Wui Cheung Rd on a wet morning at the end of its trip from Cheung Hang.
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Following which, we took the West Rail line to Tsuen Wan to kickstart our itenarary for the day. Austin (柯士甸) station is a relatively new MTR station, and was opened in August 2009 as part of the Kowloon Southern Link that linked the West Rail line to the East Rail line.
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Tsuen Wan West 荃灣西

Tsuen Wan West station was built on a reclaimed land to the southwest of Tsuen Wan New Town in New Territories. As the construction of the station was very complex, a monument was placed outside the station to commemorate the efforts of those involved in the construction process. In fact, the anchor was discovered during the reclamation works for the station.
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This metal structure which looks like it was plucked straight out from a Star Trek movie is in fact one of the many disabled friendly features in MTR stations, and is actually a tactile station layout map for the visually handicapped. They can also press a button for a very lengthy and detailed verbal instruction to get to either the train platforms or exit the station.
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A new waterfront promenade was built in front of the station to provide a new recreational venue for the residents who live near the station. Ting Kau bridge, which links the New Territories to Tsing Yi Island, can also be seen in the background of the photo.
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KMB Service 39A is a feeder service which serves the residential estates around Tsuen Wan area. S3V29 is a WA bodied Volvo Olympian and carries the Hong Kong version of the dengue fever advertisment.
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ADS146 is seen turning into Tsuen Wan West bus terminal and has a banner ad to advertise a year-end countdown party at Tsuen Wan. Unlike Singapore, many bus advertisments in Hong Kong tend be rectangular banners as the authorities have very strict rules on the format of bus advertisements.
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0558 wears a full body advertisement which promotes a new series of Sony Ericsson mobile phones. Service 930 is a cross harbour service which that utilises the Western Harbour Crossing, and is solely operated by Citybus.
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KMB Service 51

A quirk of Hong Kong's public bus system are the presence of bus terminals which are very close to each other. For example, in Tsuen Wan West, the Tsuen Wan West bus terminal (which is adjacent to the Tsuen Wan West MTR station), is barely 400m from the Nina Towers bus terminal!
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Nina Towers (如心廣場) is developed by the Chinachem group and was originally meant to be the tallest building in the world at 518m. However, it was later divided into 2 towers, with the taller tower at a height of 318.8m due to the height restrictions. The development takes its name after its owner, Nina Wang (龔如心) who was also Asia's richest woman before her untimely demise in 2007. The taller tower is named Teddy Towers after her husband, Teddy Wang, who was kidnapped and disappeared in 1990, while the shorter tower is named after her. The development consists of a 5 star hotel, retail and office space, as well as a bus terminal on the ground floor.


Dennis Dart AA28 at Nina Tower bus terminal. Service 51 used to be operated by MCW Double Decks,but as demand dropped when Tai Lam Tunnel was opened, smaller buses were used instead on this demanding route.
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A map of the route of service 51 from Tsuen Wan (Nina Tower) to Kam Sheung Rd Station via Route Twisk. The 'Twisk' actually stands for TW/SK (Tsuen Wan/Shek Kong), and was formerly a British Army road that connects Tsuen Wan to Shek Kong Camp located on the other side of Tai Mo Shan (大帽山). Map courtesy of Google Maps and Nokia Ovi services.
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The highest elevation during the route was recorded to be 452m, which was just after the Tai Mo Shan Country Park Visitor Centre. Tai Mo Shan also contains the tallest peak in Hong Kong.
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The steep, winding two-lane carriageway was the main way of getting from Tsuen Wan to Kam Tin and Pat Heung before the opening of the Tai Lam tunnel that runs under the hill.
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The Dennis Darts used on the service are specially modified to include an additional manual retarder which helps to reduce the stress on the axles and the transmission when going downhill. The manual retarder is the long black stick which is mounted on the left of the dashboard. Photo credits to Desmond Tay.
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View of Tsuen Wan New Town to the south. Unfortunately, it was rather smoggy on the day due to the low temperatures and overcast weather conditions.
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KMB "lollipop" bus stop plate outside Shek Kong Camp. There is another sign which instructs bus captains to come to a complete stop at the bus stop before moving off again. This is relatively common in more hilly areas such as Tai Mo Shan and Sai Kung to prevent bus captains from speeding dangerously down a hill and risk losing control of the bus when attempting the many sharp turns along the road.
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One of the many branch roads from Route Twisk to the surrounding villages in the hill.
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Kam Shueng Rd 錦上路

Service 51 terminates at Kam Sheung Rd MTR station, which appeared to be built in the middle of an undeveloped area. In the future, Kam Sheung Rd MTR station was planned to be an interchange station for the Northern Link spur line to Lok Ma Chau via Au Tau and San Tin.

ASB16 was photographed working service 54 to Sheung Tsuen 上村 with Kai Kung Shan in the background. ASB16 is a 10.6m Scania K230UB (exactly the same chassis ad the 1,100 which SBS Transit had bought in Singapore, but slightly shorter), and fitted with a Caetano bodywork from Spain.
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CTS operates regular direct coach services from Kam Sheung Rd station to Shenzhen, thus saving passengers the need to transit via Yuen Long (Lok Ma Chau / Shenzhen Bay) or Luo Hu to cross the border.
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We were very lucky to be able to spot AA48, which is the only Dennis Dart in KMB's fleet to be fitted with a Northern Counties bodywork. It was photographed exiting Kam Sheung Rd MTR towards Cheung Wah on service 77K.
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ATS111 is a shortened 10.6m Dennis Trident and was seen picking up passengers in front of the MTR station towards Tai Po Market on service 64K. The K prefix meant that the service would call at a KCR station. (Note: KCR had been merged into MTR since 2007).
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We boarded service 64K to Tai Po Market MTR Station on the East Rail line. The service plies along Lam Kam Road,where the famous Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree (林村许愿树) is located. The branches, which had been badly damaged by the repeated flinging of heavy objects by believers, are now supported by so many stilts that it resembles a banyan tree!
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Tai Po Market 大埔墟

Upon arriving at Tai Po Market, we had a lunch at a KFC outlet at Uptown Plaza. The Flava Rava roast chicken was absolutely one of the best grilled chicken I ever had, and combines a delightful balance of spices and seasoning which was well roasted without the meat being too dry. The set meal comes with mushroom rice and a Portuguese egg tart (which had recently been introduced to Singapore as well).
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A MTR Metro-Cammell MLR train at Tai Po Market station
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KMB operate East Rail feeder services on behalf of MTR. As such, brand new MTR Enviro 500 buses are found exclusively on East Rail feeder services. A row of these double decks were spotted laying over at Tai Po Market bus terminal during off peak hours.
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Another Enviro 500 in MTR's old livery waiting to start another trip on service K18 to Kwong Fuk estate. How I wish service 806 back in Singapore has such lovely buses, such as this bus with fleet number 806!
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815 on feeder service K17 returning to Tai Po Market station. The electronic display sign also has provisions to display festive greetings concurrently with the route details.
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Service 307 is a very unique service as it is by far the only full day cross harbour service with a 3 prefix (instead of a 1,6 or 9). The service was originally a peak hour service (hence the prefix 3), but various groups had lobbied for it to be converted to a full day service to provide an alternative to the MTR. However, the attempts had failed as MTR was given priority to provide a link between Central and Tai Po. The case was eventually escalated to a court appeal in 2003 where it was ruled that the service has the right to exist as a full service.
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Tai Po New Town
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Hong Kong Railway Museum 香港鐵路博物館

The Hong Kong Railway Museum is located at the former site of Tai Po Market station. Unfortunately, the main station building was closed for preventive maintenance during our visit, as it looked more like an old mansion rather than the entrance to a train station.
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A number of old KCRC locomotives and carriages are showcased at this museum, which also has complimentary admission. It is closed on Tuesdays. It is about a 20mins walk from the current Tai Po Market station, or a 5-10min bus ride from the bus stop outside the station.

#51 is a EMD G12 diesel-electric locomotive which was introduced to Hong Kong in 1955, and was named "Sir Alexander" after the governor Alexander Grantham. KCRC electrified the entire system in 1983.
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Kowloon Canton Railway was constructed to link Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui) to Guangzhou (then known as Canton). The section between Tsim Sha Tsui and Lo Wu is known as the British section, and was completed in 1910. The through-train service was started in 1911 following the completion of the Chinese section, and the service still runs today using modern diesel electric locomotives.
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Steam locomotive W.G.Bagnall 0-4-4T was once used to run the spur line from Fanling to Sha Tau Kok. The line was discontinued after a road was built parallel to the railway and the pair of locomotives were sold to a sugar mill in the Philippines. They were brought back to Hong Kong in 1995 and were restored for display purposes.
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Interior of a 3rd class compartment #302, circa 1911. The seat backs can be tilted back and forth so that the passengers are seated in the direction of travel.
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First Class coach #112, circa 1964. Airconditioned trains were still unheard of then, but had padded seats to make the journey more comfortable.
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Wah Ming 華明

Wah Ming is a large residential estate located in Fanling in the northern part of New Territories. Service 73 connects the old Tai Po Market town centre (where the railway museum is located) to Wah Ming.
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Service 273 provides an essential link between Wah Ming estate and Fanling Railway station. This service is one of the most frequent bus services in Hong Kong, with a frequency of 1-3mins on the short 15min long loop service. AN03 is a Walter Alexander PS bodied Dennis Lance, and looks remarkebly different from the Duple Metsec bodied examples in Singapore and Malaysia.
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Interior of a KMB Walter Alexander bodied Dennis Lance. The distinctive step after the exit door is also present, and is similar to the Dennis Lance operated by SMRT in Singapore (which are bodied by Duple Metsec instead).
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The Dennis Lance is expected to be fully retired by the end of 2010, and are progressively being replaced by Scania K230UBs on this service.
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Interior of a Caetano bodied Scania K230UB which features high back seats instead of citybus seats.
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Sheung Shui 上水

Sheung Shui is the final station on the East Rail line a passenger can go without holding a valid passport. From Sheung Shui railway station, trains would either continue on to the Lo Wu checkpoint or to the recently completed Lok Ma Chau checkpoint. Thus, there are 2 queues at the northbound platform. It can get very chaotic during the evening peak hour with a large flow of passengers, as many mainland Chinese often disembark or embark at Sheung Shui instead of stations further down the line.
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KMB had started to install large LED panels at various bus terminals to provide an overview of the fares and next bus departure time.
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The Leyland Olympian 3-Axle is one of the world's first airconditioned double deck buses, and are in the process of being scrapped due to age. AL88 was photographed laying over at Sheung Shui bus terminal on service 78K. Sha Tau Kok lies on the border with Shenzhen, where it is known by its Chinese pronounciation Sha Tou Jiao instead.

Sheung Shui bus terminal is also a hub for services which ply into the Frontier Closed Area (FCA). For example, Sha Tau Kok is inside the FCA and passengers are required to be either a resident in the FCA or have a police permit to continue their journey from a checkpoint along the FCA boundary. In order to obtain such a permit, one must have a valid reason such as visiting their ancestor's tombs that lie inside the FCA during Qing Ming.
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After a long day of spotting and sightseeing, we decided to pamper ourselves with a ride in the first class carriage on the East Rail line. The fare is twice as much as that of the ordinary class, and one must validate his/her card on a processor on the platform or the entrance to the carriage in the train. Failure to do so would carry a hefty fine of HKD500 if caught.
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The first class carriage features full back fabric seats instead of the usual stainless steel benches. In addition, the noise insulation is also greater in the first class carriage, making for a significantly quieter ride.
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Yau Yat Tsuen 又一村

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The Mitsubishi MK117J was one of KMB's first fully airconditioned buses, and features an integral bodywork from the manufacturer. Similar to the Dennis Lance, they are also quickly being phased out in favour of newer types that are wheelchair acessible. Service 203 has a large fleet of such Mitsubishi in the fleet, and terminate at Yau Yat Tsuen in the Kowloon Tong district.
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The interior of the MK117J features full seating with high back seats. However, this model had been criticised by many locals for having too narrow an aisle.
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Night Shots at Wui Cheung Rd

Line up of double decks waiting to start their final trips from Wui Cheung Rd terminal. Many of the "lollipop" plates at the berth had been removed and transferred to the new terminal at To Wah Rd.
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ATE169 on 36B against a background of the Hong Kong Island city skyline.
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