Accident prompts Central-Admiralty service halt on MTR rail line

March 18, 2019 14:36
Two MTR trains collided in a trial run for a new signaling system around 3am Monday, which led to service suspension between Central and Admiralty stations on the Tsuen Wan Line. Photo: MTR Corp

MTR Corporation has suspended rail services between Central and Admiralty stations on the Tsuen Wan Line for the whole of Monday following an accident involving two trains that had been doing test runs in relation to a new signaling system.

According to the commuter railway operator, a collision between two test trains overnight has forced service disruption on the Tsuen Wan Line between Central and Admiralty, and there is no certainty that the problem would be resolved by Tuesday morning.

At around 3 am, two trains that were testing a signaling system crashed into each other on a track that serves the Tsuen Wan Line after an apparent derailing incident.

As authorities scramble to remove the mangled train carriages from the crash site, a task that is proving challenging and time-consuming, operations were halted between two major stations until further notice.

Adi Lau Tin-shing, MTR's operations director, told the media that the Central-Admiralty train service will not resume on Monday on the Tsuen Wan Line due to the circumstances.

The railway firm apologizes to the public for the inconvenience caused, Lau said, while noting that services between the two stations on the Island Line remain unaffected.

According to Lau, two MTR trains collided with each other during a trial run for a new signaling system in the wee hours of Monday.

One of the two trains involved in the incident derailed while the new signaling system was being tested during non-traffic hours at night.

Lau said further investigations are needed before details of the incident can be ascertained, as well as why the system designed to protect trains failed to work.

As an investigation gets underway, all late night testing will be suspended for now.

Lau added that more staff have been added at MTR stations to offer assistance to passengers, and that the people are being advised to use the Island Line to get to Admiralty Station before transferring to Tsuen Wan Line.

The official revealed that both drivers of the collided trains were sent to hospital for examination. One of them suffered an injury to his right leg while the other driver is said to be safe and sound.

The Fire Services Department said the collision took place about 100 meters away from the Admiralty-bound platform of Central Station on the Tsuen Wan Line, with the front of a Central-bound train damaged, and Car 3 and 4 of a Tsuen Wan-bound train damaged as well.

Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB), meanwhile, said it has dispatched more buses after receiving a request from MTR to help ease the flow of passengers, and vowed that it will make necessary arrangements based on traffic conditions.

MTR's operations chief Alan Cheng Kwan-hing told a radio program Monday morning that the accident may affect the commencement schedule of the new signaling system. The rail operator's top priority is safety, he said, adding that the system will not be launched until relevant authorities approve it.

MTR chief of operations engineering Tony Lee Kar-yun said the train service between Central and Admiralty on the Tsuen Wan Line may not necessarily resume early Tuesday as there will only be three hours of non-traffic hours tonight for the salvage operations.

In a statement issued at around 10 am on Monday, the government expressed "great concern” about the collision of the two MTR trains.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan has requested MTR to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of incident, according to the statement.

Chan has also relayed to Frederick Ma Shi-hang, MTR's chairman, about the need to call an urgent board meeting, the government said.

The Transport Department “is closely monitoring the traffic condition, and has requested... other public transport operators to enhance their service,” since the MTR operation would be affected on Monday, according to the statement.

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Mangled carriage of one of trains involved in the accident that took place during non-traffic hours last night. Photo: MTR Corp
Another image of a wrecked train carriage following the accident. Photo: MTR Corp
MTR operations director Adi Lau speaks to media on Monday to explain the situation in relation to an overnight collision between two test trains: TVB News/ screenshot