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Hong Kong Trivia: The Peak Tram

When we ask our readers about some of the iconic things they like to do when guests come to stay, the number one answer is taking the tram up to the Peak. And with views like those, we don’t blame you! Here’s a whole bunch of trivia about the tram that you can regale your visitors with on your next ride, if conversation (or the tram!) happens to stall.

The Peak tram Hong Kong

  • 4.4: The width (in cm) of the cables used to haul the tram
  • 7: The number of minutes it takes to travel from bottom to top
  • 22: The maximum speed (in kph) of the tram today
  • 27: The gradient of the steepest part of the track, in degrees
  • 90: The total number of daily trips taken by the Peak Tram
  • 120: The current capacity of passengers on the tram (95 seated)
  • 139: The tonnes of weight that the tram cables can hold
  • 396: The height above sea level (in metres) of the tram’s upper terminus
  • 1365: The length of the track, in metres
  • 1888: The year the tram was officially opened; the first version was powered by coal-fired steam boilers

Before the tram

In the late 1800s, after Governor Sir Richard MacDonnell had first built a summer house on the Peak to escape Hong Kong’s seasonal heat and humidity, other wealthy residents soon began to populate the mountain. By 1883, around 30 to 40 families lived there. (Hong Kong’s population at the time was 175,000.) Before the tram came along in 1888, they mostly got up and down the steep paths of the Peak by sedan chair. These chairs would have been carried by their own personal staff, or sedan bearers in uniform.

More tram trivia…

  •  According to thepeak.com.hk, studies have shown that passengers riding uphill on the Peak Tram can experience a visual illusion, where the high-rise buildings on the righthand side of the tram look like they are falling backwards towards the Peak.
  • The Peak Tram plays a part in the 1950s Clark Gable film, Soldier of Fortune (both the opening and closing scenes are shot inside the tram). And it also appears in an episode of long-running TV series The Love Boat.
  • The tram is currently in the midst of a major upgrade and renovation, which is scheduled to be completed by 2021. The HK$684 million project will see the 120-passenger car replaced with a 210-capacity version, and new tracks laid throughout the line.

For more information about the tram, visit thepeak.com.hk/en.


Like this? Read more fun facts about Hong Kong in our living in Hong Kong section:

5 things we didn’t know about Po Toi
A-Z of Hong Kong trivia
Hong Kong past and present: Facts and trivia

This article first appeared in the Spring issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.