Railway company comes out of the sidings in a big way - and this is just the start of its expansion THE DREAM OF bringing the KCR network back to Tsim Sha Tsui comes true today, after a departure of almost 30 years. The arrival of the first train to East Tsim Sha Tsui station this afternoon is sure to delight the management of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation. Tsim Sha Tsui was the terminus in Kowloon for the original Kowloon-Canton Railway. The terminus remained there for more than 60 years, having witnessed the impressive economic growth and social changes of Hong Kong. In keeping with the population growth and increased cross-border trade activity, the railway system underwent continuous and substantial upgrading over the decades. Trains were initially steam hauled and diesel traction was gradually introduced in the 1950s and '60s. In the '70s, a modernisation programme was started, including the double tracking and electrification of the railway. To meet the growing passenger and cargo demand, a bigger and better equipped terminus was required. As a result, the terminus was relocated from Tsim Sha Tsui to Hunghom in 1975 after an in-depth study and planning for more than 10 years. Although the new East Tsim Sha Tsui station is still a few hundred metres away from the old site at the clock tower next to Star Ferry pier, it is a landmark return. 'The commissioning of the extension fulfils the dream of bringing us back to Tsim Sha Tsui after the terminus moved to Hunghom in 1975,' a company spokesman said. 'The corporation is thrilled with this return as it not only indicates a big move of KCR, extending its reach to the city hub, it also provides better service and more choices on routing for passengers.' East Rail is the mass transit service connecting the eastern New Territories with urban Kowloon, and is Hong Kong's only rail link with the mainland. In addition to its domestic service, East Rail operates intercity passenger services to Guangzhou and provides access for other intercity trains running to other mainland cities, including Shanghai and Beijing. Last year, domestic patronage of East Rail reached 537,800 passengers a day while average cross-boundary patronage was 224,500 passengers a day. West Rail, which opened last December, runs between the northwest New Territories and urban Kowloon. Light Rail was formerly a stand-alone transit service but is now a feeder service for West Rail. To meet the future transport needs of Hong Kong, the KCRC is constructing and planning new railway lines that will more than double the size of its existing network. New projects in the pipeline include the Sha Tin to Central Link and the Kowloon Southern Link.