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Hong Kong MTR system
The MTR as it exists today

Maps showing the possible future of the MTR

The future is here (just mind those delays)

Written by
Douglas Parkes
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The MTR is a favourite subject of just about every Hongkonger. Whether it’s praise for its general efficiency or rage at the poor behaviour of fellow passengers, few things get us talking like the state of the MTR. With news that the Sha Tin to Central Link is definitely being delayed and that the New Territories to Kowloon section definitely won’t be ready by mid-2019, it can seem like the expansion of our mass transit network is juddering to a halt. 

Fortunately, that’s not the case. There are still massive scheduled expansions to our rail network – mostly notably the North Island Line scheme – even if they might not see completion for many years to come. Here are three maps showing possible future versions of the MTR network. The first shows the approved plans for the next eight years – basically, the government’s Railway Development Strategy 2014. Then, indulge your fantasies with two rather more fanciful maps detailing how the MTR could be expanded in years to come.

Alternative future versions of the MTR

North Island Line ‘Swap Scheme’



This map shows what the MTR would have looked like in the near future if the government had selected the ‘Swap Scheme’ for the proposed North Island Line (along with other completed proposals like the Sha Tin to Central Link). This plan would have involved the western and central sections of the Island Line merging with the Tseung Kwan O Line and the eastern portion of the line joining an extended Tung Chung Line. Although this proposal would be more effective at relieving congestion on the Island Line, the ‘Interchange’ option – which leaves the Island Line as is – has been selected instead due to costs and a desire to not to mess with existing commuter patterns.

MTR ‘future’ map



An entirely fanciful map, this representation of the MTR was put together by enthusiasts KJ9384LC and Iain MacDonald. Although there are many real proposals included in this map, there are a number of lines and stations that have been proposed in the past but which are unlikely to ever see the light of day – we wish for that MTR line to Sai Kung but we’re not holding our breath. Basically, read this and weep for what will never be.

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Hong Kong railways, 1910-2026



Lastly, if you want to see how much Hong Kong’s rail network has expanded over the years, look no further. Starting in 1910 with the old Kowloon–Canton Railway and incorporating existing plans proposed in the government’s Railway Development Strategy 2014 like the previously mentioned North Island Line as well as the South Island Line (West) and East Kowloon Line, this map illustrates the past, present and future of the MTR. Let’s just hope for no more delays.

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