HK Peak Tram back in action

HONG KONG (AFP) — The Peak Tram, Hong Kong’s famed public transport and a popular tourist draw, reopened Saturday after a year-long $102 million facelift even as the city’s coronavirus curbs continue to keep overseas visitors at bay.

The historic funicular, which dates back to 1888 and offers panoramic views of Hong Kong Island’s famous skyline as it ascends to Victoria Peak, used to draw over six million visitors a year, according to its operator.

The latest makeover brought more spacious tramcars that accommodate 210 passengers, a full overhaul of its rail systems and a redesigned terminus at the heart of Hong Kong’s central business district.

The Peak Tram closed for upgrades in June 2021, a period when the Chinese finance hub’s strict border controls — in line with Beijing’s zero-Covid strategy — all but wiped out its tourism industry.

The redevelopment went over budget by around $15 million, which its operator attributed to supply chain difficulties during the pandemic, such as bringing the custom Switzerland-made tramcars to Hong Kong.

An adult return ticket now costs HK$88 ($11.20), a nearly 70 percent jump from before the makeover.

“I hope all visitors will feel it’s worth the price,” May Tsang, general manager of tram operator the Peak Complex, said on Wednesday.

“We have to consider the increase in our operating costs and the long-term sustainability of our business.”

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