Thursday, January 24, 2013

How does the Hong Kong Peak Tram climb?

The Peak Tramway (Chinese: 山頂纜車) is a funicular railway in Hong Kong, which carries both tourists and residents to the upper levels of Hong Kong Island. Running from Central district to Victoria Peak via the Mid-Levels, it provides the most direct route and offers good views over the harbour and skyscrapers of Hong Kong.

The lower terminus station - Garden Road

A funicular railway, also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope; the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalance each other.

here comes the tram

Tram Operation
The basic idea of funicular operation is that two cars are always attached to each other by a cable, which runs through a pulley at the top of the slope. Counterbalancing of the two cars, with one going up and one going down, minimizes the energy needed to lift the car going up. Winching is normally done by an electric drive that turns the pulley. Sheave wheels guide the cable to and from the drive mechanism and the slope cars.

big engine
Track layout
Early funiculars used two parallel straight tracks, with separate station platforms for each vehicle. The tracks are laid with sufficient space between them for the two cars to pass at the midpoint. The wheels of the cars are usually single-flanged, as on standard railway vehicles.

Layouts that require less width have been developed, with only two or three rails for the most part of the slope and four rails only at the passing section. The Swiss engineer Carl Roman Abt invented the method that allows cars to be used with a two-rail configuration: the outboard wheels have flanges on both sides, which keeps them aligned with the outer rail, thus holding each car in position, whereas the inboard wheels are unflanged and ride on top of the opposite rail, thereby easily crossing over the rails (and cable) at the passing track.

left is an illustration of four-rail, three-rail and two-rail layouts. Rails coloured green are shared by both cars. Note the unconventional wheels and the gaps in the rails in the two-rail layout.

Two-rail configurations of this type avoid the need for switches and crossings, since the cars have the flanged wheels on opposite sides and will automatically follow different tracks, and in general, significantly reduce costs ,especially when the funicular runs in a tunnel.

photo credit:

Hong Kong's Peak Tram
It was one of the first funiculars in Asia, opened in 1888, with a maximum grade of 48%, 1.4 kilometres long and a height difference of just under 400 metres. The line has two pronounced curves, one to the left immediately after leaving the lower terminus, and the other to the right in the upper half of the ascent. The gradient also varies considerably throughout the ascent. It is a single track route and a passing loop, with two trams.

tourist inside the tram

The lower terminus station is Garden Road, near St. John's Cathedral. The original station was incorporated into St. John's Building, an office tower, with the tram terminus at the ground level. The station comprises a single track, with platforms on both sides. One platform is used for boarding, the other for exiting the tram.

The upper terminus, The Peak is located below the Peak Tower shopping and leisure complex at Victoria Gap, some 150 metres below the summit of Victoria Peak. The station has the same arrangement of boarding and alighting platforms as the lower terminus. The haulage and control equipment for the funicular is located in a basement below the station.

There are also four intermediate stations, each of which consists of a single stepped platform and a shelter: Kennedy Road, MacDonnell Road. (depot located here and storage of historic car); May Road and Barker Road.

The peak tram is one of the options to the peak.There can be long waiting lines to get on the tram, especially on peak season or holiday. If this is your second trips, you can take a bus or a taxi to go up and down. You will have a different view if you go by bus or taxi. The peak is winding for you are going up hill. You will also see the upper class' expensive houses and flats in Hong Kong which cost over HK$10,000,000.

If you’re planning to see the Madame Tussaud museum and the Sky Terrace as well, you can purchase combo ticket at the lower terminus ticket counter, the line is usually shorter than the line for tram fare only.


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