MTR’s new South Island Line (East) rail link saw services get disrupted for about half an hour on Thursday following a power failure at stations along the route.
Following the incident, which happened just a day after the line was put in operation, the company apologized to the public and said that it is investigating the matter.
According to MTR’s operations chief, Francis Li Shing-kee, it is suspected that the problem arose due to failure of a device used to remotely control power supply at the Wong Chuk Hang depot.
He did not elaborate on the reason behind the failure, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
At about 2.15 pm Thursday, several South Island Line (East) stations suddenly lost electricity, resulting in rail services being suspended for a little over 30 minutes.
There was some chaos as lighting devices, escalators, lifts and turnstiles stopped working at the stations.
Six trains were reportedly on the tracks when the shutdown took place, before services were restored at about 2:50 pm.
Li claimed that the incident had nothing to do with the fully automatic operating system that has been deployed for the line.
MTR staff switched to manual control of power supply system soon after the outage happened, he said, adding that it is normal to see some glitches after a new line begins service.
The rail operator will do its best to ensure smooth operations going forward, the official said.
After service hours ended at midnight, MTR technicians began inspecting the facilities as part of an investigation.
The incident has sparked doubts as to whether MTR might be able to fully control any unexpected situations on the new rail line as the trains are driverless and fully operated by machines.
Chang Che-son, former chairman of the Control, Automation and Instrumentation Division of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, told Ming Pao Daily that it is unlikely the power outage was due to overload of devices since tests in this regard must have been conducted before operations began.
Kwok Ka-ki and Tanya Chan, two lawmakers from the Civic Party, on Thursday asked the Legislative Council’s railways subcommittee to hold an emergency meeting attended by officials and MTR representatives to explain the incident in detail.
Kwok said he is concerned as there are reports of multiple cases of malfunctioning equipment at some South Island Line (East) stations since the rail line began operations on Wednesday.
Lo Kin-hei, a member of Southern District Council, said Thursday’s outage might lead to some doubts among passengers over the new rail line.
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