CHINA: The 2·6 km extension of Hong Kong’s Kwun Tong Line from Yau Ma Tei to Ho Man Tin and Whampoa was opened by MTR Corp Chief Executive Lincoln Leong with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Whampoa on October 23. The first train left Whampoa at 06.10, carrying more than 1 000 passengers.

The two-station extension is expected to alleviate traffic congestion in the area, offering a journey time of about 5 min compared with 15 to 20 min by road-based public transport.

‘From today, residents living in or travelling to and from the Whampoa and Ho Man Tin areas will be able to enjoy a direct and more convenient travel experience with reduced journey time and seamless connections’, said MTR Corp Chairman Professor Frederick Ma.

Construction of the extension had been launched on July 25 2011 with celebrations a including a pig roast and hip-hop dancing.

Alstom supplied the automatic train control, interlocking, local automatic train supervision, track and overhead electrification.

Leong said that ‘extending an existing railway line to a densely built-up urban area like Whampoa and the complex excavation under the hilly terrain in Ho Man Tin were challenges’. Ma thanked the ‘over 700 engineering specialists and about 2 800 workers for their dedication throughout the planning and construction’.

More than 700 MTR and contractor staff worked overnight to prepare for the first service, changing 23 000 signs and information boards and updating passenger information and fare collection software to incorporate the two new stations.