Hong Kong’s famous Peak Tram to shorten its journey by 70 metres following renovation

HK$600 million renovation project is slated to begin in 2019 if approved with anticipated completion date of summer 2020

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 March, 2017, 8:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2017, 12:01pm

Passengers on the city’s iconic Peak Tram will notice a shorter journey after the trams and terminuses go through a multimillion dollar facelift later this decade.

The HK$600 million renovation project, currently awaiting approval from the government, will see an expansion of the Admiralty terminus to allow passengers to queue indoors and escape from hot or bad weather.

The Peak Tram - 125 years of ups and downs

The last renovation of the trams and terminuses was completed in 1989. To make room for the larger terminus the tram will halt 70 ­metres from the existing stop – leading to a slightly shorter journey for passengers.

But according to the director of the company which operates the nearly 130-year-old tourist ­attraction the intention of the ­renovation “was not to speed-up the journey”.

“We’re going to move all the people who currently queue on the road ... [and] move them in to air-conditioned comfort,” Martyn Sawyer, properties director of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Limited, told the Post.

“People will be undercover in temperature-controlled conditions. It will be more pleasant.”

Daniel Sacher – visiting from the US with his family and waiting a long time to board the tram – said having a sheltered area “would be much more comfortable, especially for children.”

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing agreed that the most urgent need was for “more sheltered space for queuing up”.

“The tram is now a tourism facility rather than just a form of public transport.

“Compared [with] similar facilities in Singapore, Japan and the mainland, we have room for improvement, such as the capacity.”

Part of the renovation will include expanding the capacity of the two trams, increasing from 120 to 200 passengers, with four longer carriages replacing the existing ones.

The terminus at The Peak will be remodelled to fit the longer trains. After receiving government approval, feasibility works will commence in late 2017. Closure of the tram system is expected to occur for one month in 2019 and three months in 2020. The anticipated renovation completion date is summer 2020.

Hongkongers and tourists to face steeper fares on the Peak Tram

One of the licence conditions Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels has with the government when it received its licence renewal in January last year was that the company would receive an additional ten year extension if it renovated the tram and its stations.

A spokeswoman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said it was “processing the application in accordance with the requirements of the Ordinance in consultation with relevant departments [and] it is too early at this stage to tell the outcome of the application.”

Revenue from Peak Tram operations was HK$120 million in 2016 – declining 2 per cent.