The first part of the MTR's scandal-hit Shatin-Central Link will open on February 14 with trains to run between Tai Wai and the new station of Kai Tak, the government has announced.
Trains on this stretch of the link will also serve another new stop, Hin Keng, and Diamond Hill Station, with services every 3.5 minutes during peak times.
Transport Secretary Frank Chan said on Friday that the new services will make it easier for people to travel between New Territories East and the eastern parts of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.
The journey from Tai Wai to Diamond Hill, for example, will be cut from the current 17 minutes, to nine.
Chan said Diamond Hill will now become a main interchange station, which should alleviate the crowding at Kowloon Tong.
He added that Valentine's Day was set for the opening date after the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department concluded that everything is ready and safe for the new services to get underway.
"On that particular day, the Transport Department has arranged with all related public transport operators to enhance connecting services and there will be preferential treatment in terms of fare adjustment for those who are connecting between their residence and the railway station through other public transport services," Chan said.
This phase of the project was originally meant to include the opening of two more new stations, Sung Wong Toi and To Kwa Wan, with trains going on to Ho Man Tin and Hung Hom.
But a construction scare at Hung Hom, where steel reinforcement bars weren't fitted correctly, has led to a serious delay, with trains between there and Kai Tak not expected to start running until late next year – more than two years later than originally scheduled.
The new part of the network is called the Tuen Ma Line, because trains will eventually go all the way from Tuen Mun to Ma On Shan.
Another part of the Shatin-Central Link will see the East Rail Line extended across the harbour to Admiralty, via a new station still under construction at the Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.
The government said last month that this section of the link isn't expected to open until the first quarter of 2022, blaming damage to the MTR network by Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters for the further delay.
The MTR said in a statement that to promote the new stretch of line, passengers using the new Hin Keng and Kai Tak Stations will get a HK$1 discount on their journeys. The promotion will last until the whole Tuen Ma Line finally opens.
Last updated: 2020-01-17 HKT 17:28