The History of the Peak Tram in Hong Kong

By Jenny Zeng
Jenny Zeng
Jenny Zeng
September 7, 2022 Updated: September 7, 2022

The Peak Tram is a funicular railway in Hong Kong, which carries both tourists and residents to the upper levels of Hong Kong Island. The Peak is the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island, which is the perfect retreat from Hong Kong’s scorching summer heat.

As earlier as 1868, houses were built on the Peak, residents reached their homes by sedan chairs, which were carried up and down the steep slope from Central to Victoria Peak. This limited development of the Peak until the opening of the Peak Tram funicular in 1888.

Epoch Times Photo
As earlier as 1868, residents on the Peak reached their homes by sedan chairs, which were carried up and down the steep slope of Victoria Peak. (Peak Tramways Company Ltd)

Since the operation of the Peak Tram in 1888, its carriages have gone through six generations of development, and each era has different characteristics. Alan Cheung, a well-known collector in Hong Kong, shared some of his collections of Peak Tram postcards and photos with Epoch reporters.

The First Generation of Peak Tram

  • Years in operation: 1888 to 1926
  • Features: Wooden carriages, propelled by coal-fired steam, carried about 30 to 40 passengers.
Epoch Times Photo
An old photo of the first generation of Peak Tram (1888 to 1926). (Courtesy of Alan Cheung)
Epoch Times Photo
The first generation of Peak Tram (1888 to 1926). (Peak Tramways Company Ltd)

The second Generation of the Peak Tram

  • Years in operation: 1926 to 1948
  • Features: Propelled by electricity instead of steam, the new carriage had 52 seats.
Epoch Times Photo
An old photo of the second generation of Peak Tram (1926 to 1948). (Courtesy of Alan Cheung)

Third Generation of Peak Tram

  • Years in operation: 1948 to 1957
  • Features: 62-seat all-metal carriages were introduced after World War II to accommodate the growing local population.
Epoch Times Photo
An old photo of the third generation Peak Tram (1948 to 1957). (Courtesy of Alan Cheung)

Fourth Generation of Peak Tram

  • Years in operation: 1957 to 1989
  • Features: The all-aluminum carriage was born, with red and green colors, and could carry 72 people. With an all-weather design, passengers enjoyed the scenery during the trip despite the different weather conditions.
Epoch Times Photo
The fourth generation of Peak Tram carriage in red livery. (Courtesy of Alan Cheung)
Epoch Times Photo
The fourth generation of Peak Tram carriage in a green livery. (Courtesy of Alan Cheung)

Fifth Generation of Peak Tram

  • Years of operation: 1989 to 2021
  • Features: Introducing modern technology, upgrading the original power system to electricity-driven and controlled by microcomputer, and passenger capacity had been increased to 120 people per vehicle.
Epoch Times Photo
The fifth generation of the Peak Tram farewell souvenir cover, curated by Alan Cheung and designed by John Wu. (Courtesy of Alan Cheung)

The Sixth Generation of Peak Tram

  • Year of operation: Launched on August 27, 2022
  • Features: Manufactured by Swiss Garaventa, CWA and Frey, and other manufacturers. A computer-controlled electricity-driven system automatically controls the speed of the Peak Tram. It is equipped with wider doors and a “step-less” design (access is at the same height as the platforms), which is convenient for people with disabilities to board and alight from the carriage. Large panoramic windows allow passengers to enjoy views of the Hong Kong skyline. The route of the Peak Tram is 1,278 meters (4,193 feet), and the trip of the computerized tram takes only about 6 minutes. Passenger capacity is increased to 210 passengers (167 seats and 43 standing).
Epoch Times Photo
The sixth generation of Peak Tram’s grand opening cover, curated by Alan Cheung and designed by John Wu. (Courtesy of Alan Cheung)
Epoch Times Photo
The 6th generation Peak Tram in Hong Kong. (Photo from the Peak Tram FB)
Jenny Zeng