News: Hong Kong’s Peak Tram Reopens After 14 months

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Hong Kong’s Peak Tram, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, has reopened with a new look after a year-long closure.

The funicular, the oldest in Asia, dates back to 1888 and previously drew over six million visitors annually before Covid-19 struck.

The service welcomed back passengers on Saturday – even as tight coronavirus rules remain in place in the city.

It has undergone a $799m HKD (£87m) facelift since closing in June 2021.

Tourist numbers in Hong Kong are a fraction of their pre-Covid levels – in the past year, 134,000 people visited the city compared to 65 million in 2018.

The tram’s makeover includes a redesigned terminus in the city’s central business district and more spacious tramcars.

Earlier this month, hotel quarantine requirements for people arriving from abroad were reduced from seven days to three.

But they must still undergo another four days of “medical surveillance” either at home or at any hotel, and are restricted in where they can travel.

Cases in the city are on the rise, with more than 7,800 infections and seven deaths reported on Friday.

Hong Kong’s Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau warned that daily cases could soon exceed 10,000 and announced a negative test requirement for people dining in groups of eight or more.

The pandemic also impacted the Peak Tram’s redevelopment, with the project going over budget due to difficulties in transporting custom tramcars from Switzerland.

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The price of a return adult ticket is now nearly 70% higher than before the tram’s makeover and costs HK$88 (£9.50).

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

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

Around 100 people queued for several hours before the reopening on Saturday to see the panoramic views of the city from Victoria Peak.

Chau, who brought his two sons along for a family outing, said he was generally satisfied with the revamp.

“It’s a bit pricey, but so is everything nowadays,” he told the AFP news agency.

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