Hong Kong’s Peak Tram to get better facilities and queue time cut from two hours to 20 minutes if HK$684 million upgrade approved
Operator of famous tourist attraction also seeks to renew rights for another 10-year period from 2026 to 2035 in arrangement with government
The two-hour waiting time for Hong Kong’s iconic Peak Tram could be reduced to about 20 minutes, with passengers spared from the sweltering summer heat or rain if authorities give the go-ahead for a multimillion-dollar facelift.
The Peak Tramways Company, the operator of the funicular railway attraction, revealed its HK$684 million (US$87.2 million) renovation plan to the Legislative Council’s economic development panel on Monday. The company is awaiting government approval for the project and its operating rights for a second decade from 2026 to 2035.
According to the plan, the upgrades, to be introduced by the end of the year and completed in 2021, would see tram capacity increased by more than 75 per cent, from 120 passengers per trip to 210 passengers with longer carriages and replaced tracks.
The previous renovation work on the tourist attraction was completed in 1989.
In late 2015, the company was granted a 10-year operating right, stretching until 2026.
Under a “10-plus-10-year” arrangement with the government, the operator can seek a second term, which would last until 2035, if it commits to upgrading facilities and services.
Martyn Sawyer, properties director of Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, which owns the tram company, pledged that the revamp would greatly improve ride efficiency and queue conditions for passengers.
“We are focusing on long queues outside the terminus and very long waiting times of up to two hours for passengers during busy holiday periods,” he told lawmakers at Legco.
“This plan will reduce the waiting time by more than 80 per cent. We will completely remove queues from public areas outside the lower and upper terminus. We’ll provide cover and an air-conditioned waiting area for up to 1,300 people at the lower terminus on Garden Road,” he said.
Other improvements included an open design for the Garden Road entrance to allow greater visibility and public access.
“We have not completed the new design of the trams. They will be modern classic; certainly nothing like MTR trains,” Sawyer said.
To make room for the larger lower terminus, its boarding and alighting platform will, it was planned, be relocated some 70 metres uphill.
If the company gets the green light to proceed with the upgrades, a temporary platform would be set up and service would be suspended for two separate periods, the first of two months, the second of five.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said three plots of land near the Helena May – a monument building – and The Peak with a total area of 379 square metres (4,000 sq ft) would be granted to the operator for the expansion plan, if approved.
The grant is free but the government would receive 12 per cent of annual ride profits. Last year it received about HK$14 million from the operator.
Yau said that subject to the Executive Council’s approval, his bureau planned to table relevant legislative amendments over the project to Legco for vetting by the end of the year.