Forget about roses and chocolates — the Hong Kong government and the MTR Corp know that expanded public transportation options are the real way to our hearts this Valentine’s Day.
Transportation Secretary Frank Chan announced today that the city’s beleaguered rail operator will be opening two new stations on Feb. 14 as part of a long-awaited expansion of the train network.
The stations are part of the Shatin-Central link, intended by the MTR to extend some of the city’s train lines to make it easier for Hongkongers to get from Sha Tin, in the New Territories, to Hong Kong Island.
According to Chan, trains will run from Tai Wai to a new station, Kai Tak, making stops at another new station, Hin Keng, and the existing station of Diamond Hill. These stations form part of the “Tuen Ma Line,” so called because it will eventually go all the way from Tuen Mun to Ma On Shan.
“We believe this is a good day amid the current gloomy sentiment. The MTR Corporation will announce the details and has some surprises for us about its arrangement,” Chan said. “The Transport Department will liaise with all transport operators to provide connecting services.”
“Gloomy” might actually be something of an understatement when it comes to the particularly rough year the MTR has had. First the operator came under fire from the city’s pro-democracy protesters for allegedly doing too little to stop a vicious mob attack by pro-Beijing goons on protesters and journalists at Yuen Long MTR station in July.
Shortly thereafter, it found itself catching flak from the opposite end of the political spectrum after mainland media outlets launched a seemingly orchestrated campaign to smear it as an “accomplice to rioters” thanks to its role as protesters’ preferred means of transportation. After the corporation appeared to cave to the pressure, protesters retaliating by making it a target for extensive vandalism and service disruptions.
The two new MTR stations form only a part of phase one of the project, which was originally meant to include two more new stations — Sung Wong Toi and To Kwa Wan — and run through Ho Man Tin and Hung Hom.
The expansion project has been mired in controversy amid allegations in 2018 of sub-standard construction work at Hung Hom, one of the connecting stations, which has led to a delay in trains running through phase one.
According to on.cc, the Tuen Ma line is expected to fully open by the end of 2021, while phase two of the plan — which runs from Hung Hom to Admiralty via a new station at the Wan Chai exhibition center — is still under construction and will open in the first quarter of 2022.
Phase two was originally meant to open in the fourth quarter of 2021, but was pushed back by the MTR, who cited vandalism to the train network by pro-democracy protesters.