Veterans remember small beginnings of MTR

Exhibition visitors can travel through 35-year history of transportation system

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 April, 2014, 12:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 4:35am

In their 35 years with the MTR, Winnie Mang Siu-mei and Andies Chan have seen the company grow from a single eight- kilometre line into a vast 182-kilometre network.

They are among 200 employees who have worked for the railway company since its launch in 1979. And they were on hand yesterday as the MTR celebrated its 35th anniversary with an exhibition at Telford Plaza shopping centre in Kowloon Bay.

Mang, a station officer at Shek Kip Mei, started off as an MTR "courtesy girl", showing passengers how to use the ticket machines.

Now 56, she has remained at the Shek Kip Mei station for most of her 35 years with the company, making her a familiar face to thousands of Hongkongers - and she has even made friends with some of the regular commuters.

"There is a boy I have known since he was in secondary school and when he got married 20 years ago, I was invited to his wedding," she said. "I like being in the front line, dealing with passengers," she added. Mang recalled how the company's original uniforms had been dark in colour and exuded a more serious tone than today's yellow uniforms, which gave an altogether warmer and more approachable impression.

Chan was just 23 years old when he began his MTR career as a station worker. Six years later he moved on to a network control job. Now aged 61, he is a deputy operations network control manager - a job, he says, which requires teamwork.

Watch: Hong Kong's MTR during peak hours

When the MTR opened in 1979, trains ran between Shek Kip Mei and Kwun Tong only. The network now has nine lines and the number of passengers has grown from 85,000 a day to 5.2 million.

In 2007, the MTR Corporation took over railway lines run by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation - the Ma On Shan Line, West Rail and East Rail.

Visitors to the Telford Plaza exhibition can see part of an original train system control panel from the first central control room in Kowloon Bay.

Models of ticketing machines and in-train grab handles from different generations are also on show.

The exhibition is open to the public from today until Sunday and will reopen from May 14 to May 18.

From May 20 to 25, the exhibition will move to Maritime Square shopping centre in Tsing Yi, and afterwards to the PopCorn mall in Tseung Kwan O, with a final stop at Hong Kong Station.