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Unified railway network starts operation in Hong Kong
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The merger of the only two railway companies in Hong Kong became effective on Sunday with the operation of a unified railway network.

The merger of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) with the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) was an important milestone in the railway development of Hong Kong, said Henry Tang, chief secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, at a ceremony marking the event.

He said the merger will create synergy and enhance economic effectiveness, benefiting 2.8-million daily rail passenger trips with a fare reduction from the first day of the merger.

The new railway service started at 05:28 a.m. local time Sunday when the first train with MTR logo departed at East Tsim Sha Tsui Station.

Staff and contractors worked through Saturday night to switch over about 150,000 signs for the new service while train-lovers jammed some KCR station courses to take pictures for memory.

The merged network, being operated by the MTR Corporation, comprises nine heavy rail commuter lines, the Light Rail System in the Northwest New Territories and the premium Airport Express.

The network is an important backbone of Hong Kong's transport system as it accounts for about 40 percent of all public transport journeys made in Hong Kong each day. The total route length of the railway lines is 211.6 kilometers.

(Xinhua News Agency, December 3, 2007)

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