Date
20 October 2017
Kwun Tong Station is shown during rush hour in this file photo. The Kwun Tong Line suffered a 10-hour delay on Saturday due to a signaling failure. Photo: HKEJ
Kwun Tong Station is shown during rush hour in this file photo. The Kwun Tong Line suffered a 10-hour delay on Saturday due to a signaling failure. Photo: HKEJ

MTR faces record fine after 10-hour delay

MTR Corp. may have to pay a record fine to the government after the Kwun Tong Line suffered a 10-hour delay on Saturday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Under the “service performance arrangement”, the government can fine the MTR HK$5 million (US$639,508) for a four-hour delay and another HK$2.5 million for each hour afterwards, with the maximum set at HK$25 million.

As the delay lasted from 11:05 a.m. to 9:05 p.m., the MTR could be fined at least HK$20 million.

The disruption forced trains on the line that connects Whampoa Station and Tiu Keng Leng Station to travel slowly because of a signaling fault, affecting thousands of passengers.

It was the latest hiccup for the rail operator which had been under fire for service disruptions three days in a row from July 28.

Apologizing for the inconvenience at a press conference on Sunday night, MTR chief executive Lincoln Leong said the company will form a panel of independent experts to investigate the incident before improvement measures are presented.

Meanwhile, MTR operations director Adi Lau said preliminary investigations showed intermittent signaling data transmission problems between Kwun Tong Station and Ngau Tau Kok Station which was blamed for the disruption, Apple Daily reported.
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The system has been in operation for more than 20 years. Lau called such the signal malfunction “very rare”.

Lau said the signaling system at the affected sites was so complex that it took MTR workers a long time to resume service.

MTR engineer Wong Yuen-wood, who also chairs the Hong Kong Railway Professionals Union, said three computer systems that control the signaling system broke down at the same time and could not be successfully rebooted multiple times.

The MTR, which will submit a report on the incident to the Transport Department, said it will pay whatever the fine based on the current mechanism.

Lawmaker Andrew Wan, a member of the Legislative Council’s transport panel, criticized Leong for trying to escape responsibility by blaming the system when the MTR itself should have been on top of things.

Wan said the Transport and Housing Bureau should also demand an explanation. The Democratic Party plans to meet with MTR management to follow up on the incident.

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