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French take 50% stake in Hong Kong trams

Reuters are reporting that the owner and operator of the Hongkong Tramways, Wharf Holdings, has sold a 50% stake in the company to the French environmental and transportation group Veolia, with an option to buy the remaining 50% at a later date.

The news has come as a shock to local people, who say there was no consultation, even though Government approval for the sale was required. However Veolia are said to have pledged to respect the tramway's heritage and preserve its traditional services, worked by double-deck trams since 1904.

The trams carry about 230 000 passengers/day, but fares are controlled by the Government, currently HKD 2 (or about 24p), less than on competing bus services.

8 April 2009

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