Rigorous investigations

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 January, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 January, 1996, 12:00am

I REFER to your article headlined, 'Trams keep running without safety control' (South China Morning Post, January 11), which unfortunately distorts the facts with regard to the maintenance, inspection and monitoring of our trams, plus the training of motormen.

Your reporter's statement (second paragraph) is incorrect in stating that the Government cannot interfere with Hong Kong Tramways' (HKT) operations.

The Tramway Ordinance (Cap 107) clearly states that trams must be of a safe construction and that they are subject to government approval otherwise they can be prohibited.

Throughout the years in instances requiring significant modifications to our vehicles, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (E&MSD) and/or the Transport Department, have been consulted for their agreement prior to the alteration of such equipment.

All cases of personal or major accidents involving trams are subject to independent E&MSD and police investigation to determine their cause, involving a thorough test of the tram concerned irrespective of whether the accident was HKT's fault or not.

If it is deemed to be HKT's responsibility then further investigations are undertaken to establish whether it was due to a driving error or technical fault.

In either instance, procedures, training, equipment, etc, are reviewed to see how they can be improved to try and prevent a repetition with input from E&MSD and the Transport Department.

This is a continuing safeguard. We routinely carry out various scheduled inspection and maintenance checks on all equipment and body parts of our fleet ranging from routine engineering daily checks for all trams prior to entering service, followed by the motorman's pre-service check, up to minor, intermediate and major inspections and overhauls.

The inspection/overhaul periods vary according to the equipment concerned, but are based on past experience and ongoing consultation with E&MSD as stated above.

Regarding your reporter's statement that I 'refused to conduct a review' (paragraph 10), this is totally inaccurate and misleading. As stated above we always carry out reviews for all major accidents plus conducting regular review meetings to upgrade our inspection and maintenance procedures.

We also hold discussions with various consultants as to how we can improve in both the operational and engineering field.

I also take great exception to the wholly inaccurate statement that has been attributed to me in paragraph 13 of the article and the inference of its wording that HKT does not care.

As a responsible major mass transit carrier in Hong Kong we are always deeply concerned with regard to any accident that occurs and concerned about establishing its cause so as to implement immediate remedial action to try and prevent re-occurrence of that accident.

All motormen have always received an annual re-certification examination which was further upgraded at the beginning of 1995, with extra emphasis on passenger safety and emergency procedures.

Following the latest two unrelated unfortunate incidents, we immediately implemented an additional day's refresher trainer for all motormen on these subjects which will be completed within one month without affecting our services to the public.

I believe the above demonstrates HKT's determination and commitment to continually improve its overall operation in the interests of passenger safety.

FRANKIE YICK General Manager Hong Kong Tramways Limited