Beacon Hill Tunnel is a railway tunnel in Hong Kong on the original Kowloon-Canton Railway, linking Kowloon Tong to its immediate south and Sha Tin to its north. The nearest stations to the south and north of the tunnel are Kowloon Tong and Tai Wai respectively. Today, the tunnel carries the MTR East Rail Line metro service and through trains to Mainland China.

Beacon Hill Tunnel
Beacon hill tunnel.jpg
South portal of the new Beacon Hill tunnel, as viewed from Kowloon Tong Station
LineEast Rail Line
Coordinates22°20′22″N 114°10′27″E / 22.3395°N 114.1743°E / 22.3395; 114.1743 (Beacon Hill Tunnel (south portal))Coordinates: 22°20′22″N 114°10′27″E / 22.3395°N 114.1743°E / 22.3395; 114.1743 (Beacon Hill Tunnel (south portal))
StartKowloon Tong
EndTai Wai
Work begun1978
Opened1981 (1981)
Length2.3 km
No. of tracksDouble
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrified25 kV 50 Hz AC
Tunnel clearance9.0 m
Width11.1 m

There are actually two tunnels of this name. The first (Chinese: 煙墩山隧道) opened in 1910 and operated until its replacement (Chinese: 筆架山隧道) came into operation following its 1981 completion.


Old Beacon Hill Tunnel
Old Beacon Hill Tunnel in 1910, south portal
StatusDisused for train, now occupied by town gas pipeline
SystemKowloon–Canton Railway
StartKowloon Tong
EndTai Wai
Opened1 October 1910 (1910-10-01)
Length2.2 km
No. of tracksSingle
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Tunnel clearance5.8 m above rail level
Width5.2 m

A team of surveyors was commissioned to plan the route for the KCR British Section in 1905. Two routes were proposed:

  1. Construction of a tunnel 1.5 mile (2.4 km) long through Beacon Hill, then following the west coast of Tolo Harbour
  2. Routing through western New Territories and Castle Peak Bay

Although option two was less of an engineering challenge, the overall route was longer, and passed through less economically active areas; therefore option one was selected. Works on the 35.4 kilometres (22.0 mi) railway to the border started early 1906. Construction of the tunnel, referred to as Tunnel No.2 in the plan (since it was the second tunnel out from the Kowloon terminus), was the greatest engineering project in Asia of its time.[1]

Construction of the tunnel presented great engineering challenges during construction of the line, and local workers were very reluctant to work underground due to feng shui-related objections.[1] The tunnel cost £298,500 to build and opened with the rest of the line on 1 October 1910, together with four smaller tunnels along the line.[2] It accommodated a single standard track with a standard gauge of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in). Throughout its operating life, the tunnel was noted for its fume problems, due to its relatively steep gradient of 1%.

As part of the modernisation of the KCR, under reformist Governor Murray MacLehose, a double-tracked, electrified tunnel was built 30 to 40 metres west of the original one.[3] Work started in 1978. The main contractor was Aoki Corporation and the tunnel was built at a cost of about HK$78 million. It was broken through on 23 April 1980.[4] The tunnel was completed by 1981, enabling the KCRC to introduce a metro-standard service to serve the rapidly growing new towns north of the mountain range. The original tunnel was closed upon completion of the new one, and is now partially occupied by a 750 mm diameter town gas pipeline.[5]


First tunnelEdit

  • single track
  • 2.2 km long
  • horseshoe-shaped, 5.2 metres wide by 5.8 metres high above rail level.
  • up to 427 metres below ground
  • tunnel lining upgraded in 1982 and 2008[5]

Second tunnelEdit

  • double track
  • 2.3 km long
  • horseshoe-shaped, 11 metres wide by 9 metres high[5]


  1. ^ a b One Hundred Years of Railway Operations in Hong Kong (PDF). Hong Kong: Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation & MTR Corporation Limited. 2010. pp. 11–12. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  2. ^ "KCR an important link between HK and China". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. 10 September 1975. p. 38.
  3. ^ A Century of Railway Development – The Hong Kong Story Archived 11 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine, Charles C P Lung, Institution of Railway Signal Engineers
  4. ^ "Sake flows as tunnels unite". South China Morning Post. 24 April 1980. p. 11.
  5. ^ a b c "Catalogue of Hong Kong Tunnels (Up to 2015)" (PDF). Geotechnical Engineering Office, Civil Engineering and Development Department. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2015.


  • Phillips, Robert J. (1990). Kowloon-Canton railway (British section): A History. Urban Council.