Finally, some good news from the MTR
Rail operator has faced a barrage of criticism in recent years but the opening of the South Island Line offers some reprieve, so long as interchange at Admiralty is handled smoothly
When the city’s rail operator announced that the opening of the long-awaited South Island Line would not be further delayed, the public greeted the news with a huge sigh of relief, and rightly so. The announcement was also given prominent coverage by the media, defying the common belief that good news is not really news.
The response says something about the perception of the performance of the MTR Corporation. It was not so long ago that the MTR made news for all the wrong reasons – construction delays, serious cost overruns, frequent service breakdowns and even rigid by-laws that, for example, stopped people from carrying musical instruments such as a cello on to trains. The setbacks called into question its reputation as a world-class rail operator.
Thankfully, the situation appears to have stabilised. After some initial hiccups last month, the newly opened service to Ho Man Tin and Whampoa on the Kwun Tong Line extension is largely operating smoothly. In more welcome news, the MTR confirmed that the South Island Line, which was put back from last year, would begin operations by the end of this year. The fares range from HK$5.30 to HK$6.70.
The HK$16.9 billion line now offers a link to Southern District, the last of the 18 districts to be covered by the urban rail system. It will take only 11 minutes to travel from South Horizons in Ap Lei Chau to Admiralty via Lei Tung, Wong Chuk Hang and Ocean Park.
Getting the new link into operation is just the beginning. Ensuring smooth connection with other lines is the next challenge. The additional traffic impact on Admiralty remains to be seen. Currently, passengers at the interchange station may have to wait for several trains before they can squeeze themselves on board during morning and evening rush hours. The rail operator has to closely monitor the situation and make sure that its services remain smooth and efficient.