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Hong Kong's famous Peak Tram closing for remodel

by ALICE FUNG AND JANICE LO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | July 3, 2021 at 4:04 a.m.
In this undated photo provided by Hong Kong Peak Tramways, a 4th generation Peak Tram which serviced from 1959 to 1989 is seen in Hong Kong. The Peak Tram started operations in 1888, when Hong Kong was a British colony, to transport people up Victoria Peak instead of using sedan chairs. The original carriages were made of varnished timber and seated 30 passengers in three classes. (Hong Kong Peak Tramways via AP)

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong's Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird's eye view of the city's many skyscrapers.

Enthusiasts and others recently had been rushing for one last ride before the Peak Tram closed for renovations. The tram officially stopped service on Monday for a six-month makeover, in part to reduce waiting times for the growing crowds.

Cedric Yu, who said he hadn't ridden the tram for years, called it a collective memory for Hong Kong people and part of the city's history.

"Taking the Peak Tram just now reminds me of my childhood memories," he added.

The Peak Tram started operations in 1888, when Hong Kong was a British colony, to transport people up Victoria Peak instead of using sedan chairs. The original carriages were made of varnished timber and seated 30 passengers in three classes.

Since then, the tram has undergone several makeovers. The current fifth-generation Peak Tram, with a burgundy exterior and varnished wood interiors, began running in 1989 and carries 120 passengers.

"The Peak Tram ... has evolved and transformed itself from an essential mode of transport to a very popular tourist attraction in Hong Kong," said May Tsang, general manager of Hong Kong Peak Tramways.

The company is investing more than $90 million to upgrade the system, the tram cars and renovate the terminus, she said.

Longer tram cars will boost capacity from 120 passengers to 210.

For Alan Cheung, a former president of the Hong Kong Collectors Society and a Peak Tram enthusiast, the makeover is welcome.

"Anything that can survive for over 100 years -- that is not easy," he said. "They must keep this treasure."

A Peak Tram passes uphill of the Victoria Peak in Hong Kong on June 16, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A Peak Tram passes uphill of the Victoria Peak in Hong Kong on June 16, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Passengers take photos from a Peak Tram during a tram journey in Hong Kong on June 17, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Passengers take photos from a Peak Tram during a tram journey in Hong Kong on June 17, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Passengers get on a Peak Tram in Hong Kong on June 17, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Passengers get on a Peak Tram in Hong Kong on June 17, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Passengers pose next to a Peak Tram on June 16, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Passengers pose next to a Peak Tram on June 16, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A Peak Tram passes an uphill of the Victoria Peak with a backdrop of Hong Kong on June 17, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A Peak Tram passes an uphill of the Victoria Peak with a backdrop of Hong Kong on June 17, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A Peak Tram passes uphill of the Victoria Peak in Hong Kong on June 17, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A Peak Tram passes uphill of the Victoria Peak in Hong Kong on June 17, 2021. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram is a fixture in the memories of many residents and tourists, ferrying passengers up Victoria Peak for a bird’s eye view of the city’s many skyscrapers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this undated photo provided by Hong Kong Peak Tramways, a 3rd generation Peak Tram which serviced from 1948-1959 is seen in Hong Kong. The Peak Tram started operations in 1888, when Hong Kong was a British colony, to transport people up Victoria Peak instead of using sedan chairs. The original carriages were made of varnished timber and seated 30 passengers in three classes. (Hong Kong Peak Tramways via AP)
In this undated photo provided by Hong Kong Peak Tramways, a 3rd generation Peak Tram which serviced from 1948-1959 is seen in Hong Kong. The Peak Tram started operations in 1888, when Hong Kong was a British colony, to transport people up Victoria Peak instead of using sedan chairs. The original carriages were made of varnished timber and seated 30 passengers in three classes. (Hong Kong Peak Tramways via AP)
In this undated photo provided by Hong Kong Peak Tramways, a 2nd generation Peak Tram which serviced from 1926 to 1948 is seen in Hong Kong. The Peak Tram started operations in 1888, when Hong Kong was a British colony, to transport people up Victoria Peak instead of using sedan chairs. The original carriages were made of varnished timber and seated 30 passengers in three classes. (Hong Kong Peak Tramways via AP)
In this undated photo provided by Hong Kong Peak Tramways, a 2nd generation Peak Tram which serviced from 1926 to 1948 is seen in Hong Kong. The Peak Tram started operations in 1888, when Hong Kong was a British colony, to transport people up Victoria Peak instead of using sedan chairs. The original carriages were made of varnished timber and seated 30 passengers in three classes. (Hong Kong Peak Tramways via AP)

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