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Hong Kong MTR

Hongkongers mind the gap as two new MTR stations open at Whampoa and Ho Man Tin 14 months late

Long-awaited HK$7.2 billion Kwun Tong Line extension begins ­service on Sunday, but concerns remain about overcrowding

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 October, 2016, 11:07pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 October, 2016, 11:39pm

Two brand new MTR stations open on Sunday for ­passengers in Whampoa and Ho Man Tin as the long-awaited Kwun Tong Line extension begins ­service, but some were already worried on Saturday about ­overcrowding.

The MTR gave the public a sneak peek at its new Whampoa station on Saturday. It connects with the new Ho Man Tin station to link up with the existing Kwun Tong Line at Yau Ma Tei, forming a 2.6km ­extension.

The HK$7.2 billion railway project was originally scheduled to open in August last year, but was ­delayed by engineering difficulties, complications with underground utilities, and construction time limits because of noise complaints.

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Whampoa station is a single-platform underground facility with trains running at four-minute frequencies during peak periods, while there will be a train every two minutes at Ho Man Tin station, which is the largest at seven storeys.

Unlike Ho Man Tin station, Whampoa station was a work of adjustment and compromise to ­overcome spatial constraints.

“The concourses are too small,” neighbourhood resident Wong Man-chi said, expecting overcrowding problems. “Whampoa is a very densely populated area. There are a lot of businesses here. After the station begins service, it will be more crowded as people from Ho Man Tin will also come to Whampoa to shop and eat.”

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She also pointed out an additional inconvenience for commuters because Whampoa is one of the few MTR stations with totally separate concourses, as at Causeway Bay. “People would have to exit from the right exit. Because after you leave the platform, you can’t go to the other concourse.”

Local resident Andrew Tse echoed concerns about spatial restrictions at the new station, although he sympathised with the MTR which had to work around the foundations of the many buildings.

“The station is built too deep beneath the ground. Passengers have to take two escalators before they reach street level,” he said.

The new station attracted some 10,000 visitors between 12pm and 4pm on Saturday – nearly three times that for the open day at Ho Man Tin station last weekend.