Travel on the Peak Tram in Hong Kong

Asia - Editor - 28 November 2012

Travel on the Peak Tram in Hong Kong

Traveling between Hong Kong's Central district and Victoria Peak, via the city's Mid-Levels residential area, the Peak Tramway is a funicular railway used by both residents and tourists visiting this fascinating island. Covering a distance of around 1.4 kilometers with a maximum steepness of 48%, in addition to being the most direct route between the two points, the Peak Tramway offers breathtaking views over the harbor and spectacular skyscrapers of the city of Hong Kong.

Located on Garden Road in the Central district, the Garden Road Terminus is the lowest on the route. Garden Road is the main road connecting the Central and Mid-Levels areas, and for most of its length only carries traffic traveling in a downhill direction, while the nearby Cotton Tree Drive carries uphill traffic. There are platforms on both sides of the Peak Tram, with one platform used for boarding the tram and the other for exiting. The uppermost terminus is called The Peak and is located just below the Peak Tower shopping and leisure complex, which is in turn, located around 150 meters below Victoria Peak Summit. The four intermediate stations at which passengers can board and exit include Kennedy Road, MacDonnell Road, May Road, and Barker Road.

Located between Victoria Peak and Central, Mid-Levels is an upper-class residential area occupied primarily by wealthy local and expat professionals. The Central-Mid-Levels escalator, being the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, offers an alternative route for resident of the Mid-Levels to reach the Central Business District of Hong Kong, where many residents are employed.

The Peak Tram was initially proposed by Alexander Findlay Smith in 1881, and was given the go-ahead by the Governor of Hong Kong two years after being submitted for approval. Findlay put a lot of thought and effort into the construction of the tramway, studying up on other railway systems being used in hilly and mountainous regions around the world, including San Francisco, Lucerne, Mount Vesuvius, Scarborough and Monterey. Construction started in September of 1885 and by May 1888 the Peak Tram line was officially opened.

At that time, and right up until 1926, the tram was divided into three classes, with First Class being reserved for British colonial officials and residents of Victoria Peak, the Second Class being reserved for Hong Kong Police Force personnel and members of the British military, and Third Class being used by "other people and animals". Today, there are no such class distinctions and an average of more than 11,000 people ride the Peak Tram every day, with more than four million using this effective and interesting means of transport every year.


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