MTR Corporation, a public transport operator in Hong Kong, has initiated trial operations for the East Rail Line (EAL) cross-harbour extension.

Under the programme, some non-passenger EAL trains will run through the existing EAL stations via the new platform at Hung Hom Station to the new Exhibition Centre Station and the future EAL terminus at Admiralty Station.

According to MTR, the trial runs will be conducted during non-peak period of the traffic hours and in non-traffic hours.

Commencement of the trial operations marks a key milestone and will help in determining the readiness of the line that will extend the EAL service from Hung Hom to Hong Kong Island. MTR aims to begin passenger services on the EAL cross-harbour extension in June or July this year.

MTR Corporation SCL & HSR general manager James Chow said: “The transition to trial operations today marks the final phase, not only of the new EAL extension project, but also another step closer towards the completion of the whole Shatin to Central Link project.

“We thank the community for their understanding and support throughout the years, without which this mega project could not be accomplished.”

During the trials, the operations team will focus on the performance of the railway systems and facilities, as well as staff, in order to deliver a safe and reliable passenger service.

The key aspects of the programme will include running train services, station facilities, final train trial running, as well as drills and exercises.

Once the extension becomes operational, EAL will become Hong Kong’s fourth cross-harbour railway line.

With 46km of rail route, EAL connects Northeast New Territories and Central Kowloon to the commercial, convention, exhibition and financial hubs in Wan Chai North and Admiralty areas.

MTR Corporation Operating & Metro Segment chief Sammy Wong said: “Over 900 colleagues in our operations team are gearing up to deliver excellent customer services once the EAL cross-harbour extension is commissioned.

“Staff training and hundreds of drills and exercises, simulating different operational scenarios, will be held to enable our colleagues to become fully conversant with the new railway systems and facilities.”

In June last year, MTR, Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government signed four principal agreements for operating Tuen Ma Line.