MTR Corporation’s announcement Tuesday that it will allow certain oversized musical instruments to be carried on its trains has fueled demands that the rail operator extend a similar concession for large sporting items.
Lobo Louie Hung-tak, associate professor of physical education at the Hong Kong Baptist University, said he cannot understand why MTR is giving priority to musical instruments but leaving out sporting goods in the trial scheme that will be launched next month, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Under the proposed new registration system for oversized items, people will be allowed to carry musical instruments such as cellos aboard trains.
However, those carrying things such as snooker cues will still be barred from entering MTR gates.
In July, former professional snooker player Ivan Chan Kwok-ming said he had been issued a warning letter by MTR for carrying a snooker cue on a local train.
Following the announcement Tuesday of easier rules for people carrying musical instruments, some citizens said in online forums that MTR has not addressed the problem on oversized baggage fully.
The rail operator should relax the restrictions further so that locals can carry large sporting and recreational items, they said.
Following a two-week public consultation, MTR said it will launch in November a trial registration system that will allow musicians to carry some large instruments on trains during off-peak hours.
Permits must be obtained in advance to carry the oversized items.
MTR’s operations director Jacob Kam Chak-pui said Tuesday that details of the scheme are under discussion and that the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department will be consulted before the rail operator sets standards for sizes and applicable period each day by end-October.
However, he said that while instruments like cellos may be allowed, it will be difficult for much larger items such as guzheng, a Chinese traditional musical instrument, to be permitted.
He cited potential safety risks for passengers for the decision to bar very large items.
If the trial scheme — which will runs until early 2016 — proves satisfactory, MTR will consider extending it as well as covering other types of large items, such as sports and entertainment goods, according to Kam.
Tuesday’s announcement came more than a hundred musicians held a protest concert at MTR Tai Wai Station on October 3 to demand easier rules on people carrying musical instruments.
On Sept. 23, MTR staff prevented a Hong Kong Baptist University student from carrying a cello onto a train. A week before that, a uniformed schoolgirl was barred from Tai Wai Station as she was carrying a guzheng.
According to the results of a public consultation conducted by MTR on the size restrictions on personal objects, 234 of the 552 respondents had discussed the issue of musical instruments.
About half of those respondents favored a registration or exemption system to be put in place for instruments larger than the current size restrictions, while 30 percent called for relaxing the regulations.
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