Hong Kong Railway Museum – Past and Present of the City’s Transportation

Hong Kong Railway Museum. Photo by: Seong Hyeon Choi Vincent.

Hong Kong, as a major trading port of Asia, is the city where transportation plays a significant part. One of the most important means of transportation that exists in Hong Kong would be the railways. The history of railways in Hong Kong can be dated back to 1910 when the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) was first built, connecting Hong Kong with Mainland China. Since then, railways have been serving Hong Kong people for more than a century. Such history of railways in Hong Kong can be browsed through at a single place – the Hong Kong Railway Museum.

The railway museum is located in Tai Po, New Territories. The museum building itself was the former Tai Po Market station, which was built in 1913 with traditional Chinese-style roofing, and declared as a monument in 1984. The East Rail Line now passes right next to the museum, signalling its significance in the railway history of Hong Kong. The aged running in board shows that it was once a railway station.

Old ticket office of Tai Po Market station. Photo by: Seong Hyeon Choi Vincent.

Inside the museum displays the overall railway history of Hong Kong. The old photos of KCR are exhibited with the detailed introduction of the station’s past, spanning from the establishment of KCR to its operations in modern times. The archaic ticket office is also open to visitors. The vintage furniture and train tickets are preserved to illustrate how people could have ridden the trains back in the days. Visitors can also hear past train announcements that could have been broadcasted before at this exact same spot.

There are also exhibits on display outside the museum where the old railway lies right in front along with railroad car antiques. Among these, the most prominent one would be “Sir Alexander”. Sir Alexander, also referred to as Diesel Electric Engine No.51, was a locomotive imported from Australia in 1955, and was the first diesel-electric engine ever to run on Hong Kong railways. It was named after the then governor of Hong Kong. It had served passengers for 28 years, before beginning to haul freight trains between Hong Kong and China. After getting out of service in 1997, it was donated to the railway museum in 2004, for its importance in Hong Kong’s railway history. These vintage railroad cars are open to visitors. Visitors can travel back in time and experience for themselves how these retired railroad cars used to serve passengers some decades earlier.

Sir Alexander locomotive. Photo by: Seong Hyeon Choi Vincent.

“It is an interesting place where you can see old-day stations,” said Agnes Lam, one of the visitors to the railway museum, “Climbing up to old train compartments is fun indeed. I recall scenes from old Hong Kong movies.”

Although its size is smaller than other railway museums around the world, the Hong Kong Railway Museum still well documents the city’s local transportation history.

The railway museum is open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Mondays and from Wednesdays to Sundays, and from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Christmas Eves and Chinese New Year’s Eves. It is closed on Tuesdays.

 

Writer: Seong Hyeon Choi Vincent

Copy Editor: Lexie Ma Xiaochi

Editor: Ng Nok Hei

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