Death on tracks sparks MTR systems review

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 May, 2007, 12:00am

The MTR Corporation has launched a review of its emergency response systems following the alleged failure to properly investigate an alarm signal warning that someone was on the tracks.

The review, confirmed by a company spokesman, follows a coroner's decision to ask police to provide a new report on their investigation into the death of Tao Mui at Heng Fa Chuen MTR station on February 17.

'We will review every incidence to see if there is any room for improvement,' an MTR spokesman said. 'This kind of review will cover all aspects of the operation.'

The MTR said the investigation was being carried out internally and it would not use an independent body.

A source at the rail operator claimed the review was focusing on the reasons why the MTR's control systems failed after an alarm system sounded, alerting staff that a person may have crossed onto the track.

Investigators also will explore why the trains continued to run for more than two hours despite a passenger contacting the company shortly after the alarm to say they had seen the 75-year-old woman on the tracks.

The source claimed senior officers made the decision to continue running the trains after preliminary investigations failed to find any evidence of someone on the track. The alarms are used at MTR stations that do not have glass barrier doors to alert controllers of track violations.

The spokesman said there had been only 21 occasions between 2000 and 2006 that the alarms had been activated but there were no figures on how many turned out to be false.

Philip Chan Siu-wo, from the MTR staff union, said stopping all services once the alarm sounded was not normal practice for the company as the alarms were often triggered by pranks.

An MTR spokesman denied a 'culture of fear' about making trains late existed within the organisation and had contributed to the incident.

'There is absolutely no such culture within the company because we always put safety first.'