THE MTR is to spend $8 billion over the next seven years to improve services, particularly to ease pressure on the notorious Nathan Road corridor. But legislators were quick to warn the company not to make passengers foot the bill. Passengers are to see new ticket machines and information display boards on every station, and there will be new single journey tickets by 1995. Next year some trains will have new carriages, and messages on trains and platforms will be clearer over new public address systems. Outdoor platforms are to get seats, while pagers and mobile phones should work over almost the entire length of the system by 1996. Behind the scenes, the most crucial development will be a new train control system which allows more trains to be run per hour. There will also be new drive motors for the trains which should make for a smoother journey, and plans to make station air-conditioning more agreeable to the railway's two million passengers. The MTR also plans to improve its critical rush hour capacity, from 31 trains an hour now to 32 next year. The new train control system on the Tsuen Wan line - which includes the busy Nathan Road section - is to bring the total to 34 in 1996. It is to be installed on the Island line and the Kwun Tong line by the end of 1997. Bill Donald, MTR Operations Director, said the railway planned to pay for the projects out of its fare revenue, and that there would be no substantial rise in fares in any one year. ''I would be very surprised if we had to raise our fares at a rate significantly higher than the rate of inflation,'' he said. ''Passengers will pay for this through the fares, and they should expect to do so.'' But legislator Lau Chin-shek warned the MTR faced opposition if it tried to increase fares to meet the cost. ''We welcome their plans to improve the service but any moves to make the customer pay would be unreasonable. We will be watching this very closely,'' Mr Lau said. ''It is the MTR's responsibility to provide an adequate service. They are expecting the number of passengers to rise, and that means their income will go up as well, so they will get more money from that.'' Mr Donald said the MTR had to upgrade its equipment as the end of life spans were reached, otherwise the entire system would be in trouble. ''Other countries have let their mass transit railways deteriorate for 20 to 25 years, and passengers have suddenly been introduced to the cost of upgrading systems with significant fare rises,'' he said. He said that would not happen in Hong Kong as long as the MTR continued to plan ahead. ''Doing otherwise is not an option. This week we have been carrying 2.5 million passengers in the run up to Christmas, on just 43 kilometres of track. That is way out of the range of what any other mass transit railway in the world is doing.'' Passenger numbers were rising but the MTR was expected to cope, said Mr Donald. ''Our long-term strategy is to get a parallel line on the West Kowloon reclamation, but we will go on increasing capacity on the Tsuen Wan line until such time as the other line is in place. ''If these things don't come to pass then we will have to review the whole matter again.'' But he insisted he would not allow the MTR to get overcrowded. ''We have to get this town to work,'' he said. He was glad the peak hour surcharge was scrapped earlier this year, because it was unpopular. ''But I cannot rule out that it will never be brought back,'' he said. Other changes included in the capital plan are a new entrance at Cityplaza at Taikoo by 1995 and new guide paths for blind and visually-impaired people to find their way around the MTR - the first will be installed at Shekkipmei station next year. Ramps will be fitted at some stations so people in wheelchairs can board trains by themselves. and the corporation plans to start testing stair-climbing devices next year to try to open more stations to disabled people. Mr Donald said the MTR would be continually upgraded over time. ''This updating programme will go on for the next 100 years. This railway will be operating in 100 years' time at the sort of levels of reliability and efficiency that you see today.''