MTR says loose screws to blame for escalator accidents

September 22, 2015 14:04
Damaged foot plates are shown in the Wong Tai Sin (inset left) and Quarry Bay (inset right) MTR stations. The accidents happened within days of each other. Photos: Bloomberg, Apple Daily, Facebook

Hong Kong's mass railway operator is blaming loose screws for two escalator accidents within days of each other.

MTR Corp. said a 3.5-centimeter screw found by investigators in the Wong Tai Sin station might have caused the escalator to jam on Sunday.

It said a similar incident in the Quarry Bay Station on Thursday appears to have been caused also by a loose screw, Apple Daily reports.

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department confirmed that both accidents were caused by foreign objects.

It said there were no faults in the escalators.

In both instances, foot plates buckled and broke off the moving steps after apparently getting stuck. 

Louis Szeto, chairman of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, said plates at the bottom and at the top of the escalator steps could break if a hard object lodges between their teeth.

This would trigger an emergency halt.

Szeto said the risk of passengers falling into the gap is "very small" and cannot be compared with a recent incident in mainland China where a woman was shallowed alive by an escalator.

He said each metal plate can support 500 kilos and can safely carry the equivalent of six to seven people.

Trade union legislator Kwok Wai-keung urged MTRC to conduct an in-depth investigation and provide guidelines on how affected passengers can seek compensation.

Meanwhile, a passenger, surnamed Tong, said she was injured after falling off an escalator in the Admiralty station on July 28.

Tong said MTR staff merely asked her how the accident happened instead of giving emergency aid or calling an ambulance.

She has obtained a medical report and plans to seek compensation.

The railway operator did not say if it will pay any compensation but insisted there is no evidence of negligence on its part.

It said passengers have to follow procedures when applying for third-party liability insurance claim.

MTR had 728 escalator incidents in 2014 and 704 in the previous year.

For the first seven months, the number was 382, down 12 percent year on year.

It said escalators undergo regular inspection and maintenance once every two weeks.

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