15 July 2019
Ting Wing light rail station site recorded subsidence of as much as 90mm, the biggest among the 46 sites that were found with such problem, according to MTR Corp. Photo: HKEJ
Ting Wing light rail station site recorded subsidence of as much as 90mm, the biggest among the 46 sites that were found with such problem, according to MTR Corp. Photo: HKEJ

MTR admits 46 monitored sites have ground settlement problem

MTR Corporation has revealed that 46 out of a total of 64 construction sites that were being monitored for subsidence were found to have possible ground settlement problem.

In a statement released late on Monday, the railway operator said the subsidence was within the acceptable level in most cases and that work had to be stopped only on three development projects.

The company made public for the first time the list and details of all the sites that were under monitoring for subsidence, or sinking of the ground surface.

It only did so after the government set out a new mechanism to boost communication and information dissemination about railway area safety, following a review of the existing disclosure practices.

According to MTR, 10 of the 46 subsidence-hit construction sites were on the West Rail Line, more than the others, and four on the Kwun Tong Line, one on the Tsuen Wan line, eight on the Island Line and one on the South Island Line.

Subsidence was also seen at six sites on the Tung Chung Line/Airport Express, while East Rail Line/Ma On Shan Line and the Light Rail has nine and seven of such sites.

Of them, 39 sites suffered less than 10mm of subsidence, with another five between 10mm and 17mm, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The remaining two sites, located at Tai Wai Station of the East Rail Line and the Ting Wing Station of the light rail, saw ground settlement of as much as 23mm and 90mm, respectively.

Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu called the three sites suffering the relatively more subsidence, especially the site at Ting Wing Station, unacceptable, and demanded that MTR disclose more details to ease public concern.

Due to the subsidence problem, three property development projects, including one atop Tai Wai station, one near Ting Wing Station, and one near Yuen Long station, has been brought to a halt, MTR said.

Announcing new measures to address public concern over the notification arrangement following recent occurrences where nearby foundation works caused settlement of railway structures, the government said stringent monitoring mechanisms have been put in place to handle such incidents caused by private construction works within railway protection areas.

Under the new mechanism, the Buildings Department (BD) will notify the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) and MTR when granting consent for works within railway protection areas, to allow the rail operator to formulate a plan in a timely manner to monitor railway operations.

During construction of the private project, if any monitoring checkpoint within railway protection areas records a settlement reading reaching the pre-set limit for works suspension set by MTR or the government, the three parties will notify each other immediately.

Then in the next 48 hours, the BD will finish inspection of the affected railway facilities and the EMSD will complete its review on the MTR’s rail monitoring data. They will then issue a joint press release to report the situation to the public.

Upon receipt of an application to resume construction works, the BD will consult the EMSD, other relevant departments and the MTRC under the established mechanism. The two departments will jointly announce the decision to accept the application to resume construction works.

Meanwhile, several members of Tuen Mun District Council, who were unhappy with the passive way the government and MTR responded to the subsidence problem, claimed that they have formed a crisis task force.

The task force will ask related officials and MTR representatives to attend a meeting next Monday to give more details on the affected stations.

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