Hong Kong’s MTR: Taking a ride on the world’s most envied metro system

Story highlights

Hong Kong's MTR system operates 2.8 million train trips per year with a 99.9% on-time rate

It recently spent $15 million renovating a NASA-like control center

An integrated Artificial Intelligence system increases efficiency

CNN  — 

In a spacious, high-ceilinged room, rows of yellow-shirted controllers monitor a wide, curved video panel that spans the length of an entire wall.

In front of this space age-like console, staff keeps tabs on Hong Kong’s sprawling mass transit system, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Everything is humming along normally on a recent winter day, until the black “incident box” at the center of the room suddenly jolts to life.

There’s a problem on one of the tracks.

Red digits on the box begin flickering madly, indicating the seconds elapsing since the start of the incident.

“The incident box is on, that means there’s an incident in one of the stations causing a delay,” says Jacob C. Kam, operations director of Hong Kong’s MTR (Mass Transit Railway) Corporation Limited.

Smooth operator: Jacob C. Kam, MTR operations director.