23 February 2019

Legislators demand probe into massive train disruption

Hong Kong lawmakers want the government to conduct an investigation after a crack was found on a rail line, resulting in long delays during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, public broadcaster RTHK reported.

The crack was discovered near the Diamond Hill station on the Kwun Tong Line, causing severe disruptions across the system and delays of up to 10 minutes.

Turnstiles had to be closed in some stations to avoid overcrowding on platforms, the report said.

Transport Secretary Anthony Cheung has ordered MTR Corp., Hong Kong’s sole rail operator, to submit a report on the incident.

It remains unclear whether the problem was due to the aging railway system or a maintenance oversight, Cheung said.

He said the government will require MTR to carry out thorough checks on its systems if necessary.

Cracks on the track near the Diamond Hill station have been previously reported, forcing passing trains to slow down.

As a result, travel between Diamond Hill and Wong Tai Sin would take eight minutes compared with the usual three minutes, the report said.

Cheung Chi-kong, chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, said a crack would occur mostly at a welding spot.

“It’s quite normal to see cracks as trains pass on the track all the time.”

However, if a train slows down when passing, it won’t have any safety issues, he said.

Legislator Gary Fan said MTR failed to detect the problem in its regular sight and ultrasound inspections and demanded the company look into any link between the incident and increased train frequencies and submit a report to the Legislative Council.

MTR spent HK$46 million to acquire an ultrasound testing vehicle last year but the system has failed to perform, Fan said.

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