Hong Kong's 218km rail network currently carries around 4.5 million passengers per day, accounting for around 40% of all public transport trips, and the bureau's Railway Development Strategy 2014 suggests developing the network could help to reduce reliance on road transport while significantly improving passenger flow on existing lines.

At present five new lines or extensions are under construction which will bring 70% of the population within reach of a railway station by 2021.

Proposals outlined in the strategy include the development of a new regional line, the Northern Link, which will involve constructing a 10.7km connection between Kam Sheung Road on the West Rail Line with a new station at Kwu Tung on the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line.

The 7.8km East Kowloon line would connect the Kwun Tong Line and Shatin – Central Link at Diamond Hill with Po Lam on the Tseung Kwan O Line, while a new North Island Line could be created on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island by extending the Tung Chung line to the east and the Tseung Kwan O Line to the west. This would require around 5km of new line.

The report also suggests extending the Tung Chung Line to Tung Chung West and the West Rail Line by 2.4km to Tuen Mun South, while the South Island Line could be extended 7.4km to meet the West Island Line, which would bring southern and western parts of Hong Kong Island onto the rail network.

In addition to these new lines, a new station is proposed at Hung Shui Kiu on the West Rail Line between Tin Shui Wai and Siu Hong.

The projects listed in the plan are expected to generate cumulative economic benefits of $HK 30-40m per year for Hong Kong at 2014 prices.

The report stresses that these proposals are at a very early stage and further studies and public consultation will be required before any firm commitments are made to construction. Nonetheless, the report suggests all of the new lines could be completed by 2031.