The East Rail is one of the three lines of the KCRC network in Hong Kong. It starts at East Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and ends at Lo Wu, the land border with Shenzhen. The route used to be the only metro line of the KCRC, but following the construction of the West Rail, it was designated the East Rail to avoid confusion.
The same railway is used for passenger and freight services crossing the border with Shenzhen to various cities in mainland China, including Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. These longer-distance passenger services start/end at Hung Hom. The line is generally double-track and electrified, except for certain goods sheds. Immigration and customs facilities are available at Hung Hom station.
The construction of the East Rail started in 1910, then as the Kowloon-Canton Railway. The part of the railway located in Hong Kong was referred to as the "British Section", while the remaining route to Guangzhou was called the "Chinese Section", now the Guangshen Railway. Initially, service was only from Yau Ma Tei station to Fanling station with a tunnel through Beacon Hill (to Sham Chun (now Shenzhen) station for border crossing, and later changed to Lo Wu station after Communist China closed the border in 1949). The line was generally single track, with a passing loop at each station.
Through the years, more stations continued to be added to the line. Sheung Shui station was opened in the 1930s, and Ma Liu Shui (now University) station opened in 1955. The line was originally built with narrow gauge tracks, but just before opening standard gauge track was laid and the original tracks were used to build a branch line, the Sha Tau Kok Railway from Fanling to Sha Tau Kok. This branch was unsuccessful and closed on 1 April 1928 following the opening a road that ran parallel to the train.
The development of the towns along the train line began to grow immensely during the 1970s, prompting a redevelopment of the Kowloon-Canton Railway. The original Kowloon station terminus at Tsim Sha Tsui was too small and had no room for expansion, so a new terminus site was chosen in Hung Hom, then known as Kowloon station. The new Kowloon station replaced the old one in 1974. Today, the clock tower is the only structure left from the old terminus. Some six pillars are relocated to Urban Council Centennial Park in TST East. A big bell was stored at Ho Tung Lau. The original Hung Hom station at Chatham Road South was also abolished.
The line was also doubled (throughout) and electrified. This work involves building a new tunnel through Beacon Hill and providing an interchange with the MTR network. The development finished in sections between 1982 and 1983, with new electric multiple units replacing diesel locomotives. During the electrification, more stations were added to the line.
On 25 November 1984, a train derailed between Sheung Shui and Fanling station. The track system was out of order and caused the first and second couple of the train to derail. Fortunately, all passengers and the driver had already got out of the train, and no one was injured. However, the accident causes service to stop for a whole day. It is certain that this is the Hong Kong's most serious railway accident ever made.
On 28 December 2004 a branch to the East Rail, the Ma On Shan Rail was added, with an interchange at Tai Wai.
The stations of this line are:
*Fo Tan and Racecourse are parallel stations. Racecourse station only open on Horseracing Day at Sha Tin Racecourse or when there is a special event held there.
Full station list of KCRC lines
- Official Website of the KCR (http://www.kcrc.com)