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Making dreams come true

MTR Corporation have been improving train-to-train communication technology, leading the way on the Hong Kong Disneyland Line.

MTR Corporation’s Disneyland line was opened in 2005 and has been providing a reliable railway service for the local community and tourists travelling to and from the Hong Kong Disneyland resort ever since.

The organisation recently announced it would be bringing trains with advanced battery-driven functions into service on the line, as well as deploying advanced train-to-train communication technology for the first time in Hong Kong.

As a part of MTR’s continual improvements, it recently announced it would be implementing an asset renewal plan for the Disneyland Resort Line. This will include purchasing three new four-car trains equipped with advanced battery-driven systems.

The trains

The trains currently in use have adopted fully automatic operations (FAO) but have begun to approach the end of their lifespan.

MTR Corporation will procure new trains from CRRC, which can trace its manufacturing roots back to 1900 where it started as Sifang Locomotive Works.

The upgrade to the Disneyland line is just an example of upgrade work being done by MTR. Image: MTR

Sifang Locomotive Works manufactured China’s first steam train wholly made in China in 1952 and has expanded a lot since that time.

The first Chinese trains that could travel at 200 km/h, 300 km/h and 380 km/h were manufactured by CRRC and the first “Fuxing” EMU, and the first intercity EMU, were built by the organisation.

All of these developments have positioned CRRC as a leader in train technology both in China and globally.

The new trains will be the first to be custom built for the Disneyland line providing flexibility in the design process.

Both the exterior and interior of the trains, and decorations on the line, feature Disney themes. The current trains have bronze statues of Disney characters, and all windows are shaped in the style of Mickey Mouse’s head.

MTR Corporation plans to work closely with Disney to enhance the passenger experience for those attending the resort. 

Signalling system

The new signalling system will be supplied by Traffic Control Technology, replacing the existing FAO communications-based train control technology that is commonly used in the industry, with the advanced “train-to-train” communication technology.

To enable the expansion of automated metros over the past decade, TCT’s focus on standardisation has delivered:

  • interoperability between suppliers and systems;
  • faster project delivery (giving greater certainty at reduced cost); and
  • reduced integration risks.

Continuous improvement

MTR is aiming to invest in the improvements of its rail lines across Hong Kong and beyond and not simply the Hong Kong Disneyland line.

The new trains will come with a number of Disney themes to enhance the passenger experience. Image: MTR

Dr Tony Lee is the operations and innovation director of the company, and he explained the company’s direction.

“We look forward to applying new technologies including artificial intelligence in this comprehensive asset renewal project to create more favourable conditions for future railway facilities, operations and maintenance, and passenger experience,” he said.

“As the replacement of trains and the signalling system are both complex works, we will implement the projects prudently and gradually.

“ We will carry out the relevant testing, safety verification and inspections in a stringent and orderly manner.

“Various tests and fine-tuning in accordance with international standards will also be conducted and the new trains and signalling system will be put into service upon the approval from relevant government departments.”

MTR Corporation will be making a number of investments on its rail systems. Between 2023 and 2027 it will invest more than $12.9 billion AUD in railway asset renewal and maintenance.

Various MTR lines have been replacing the trains and signalling systems over the past few years due to the development of local railway networks and the life cycle of railway assets.

MTR Corporation has formulated forward-looking railway asset renewal programmes to ensure the systems are fit for future operational needs and, to “keep cities moving”.