Merged rail works overtime to change signs

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2007, 12:00am

Staff and contractors worked through the night last night to switch over about 150,000 signs for the launch of Hong Kong's unified rail network today.

The enlarged MTR Corporation sprang to life at 12.45am in a ceremony at East Tsim Sha Tsui station to mark its merger with the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, with further ceremonies to celebrate the start of the service at 4.30am and the 5.28am departure of the first train.

Stockpiling of the 147,500 new signs and maps started months ago and workers began the 12-hour task of replacing the logos on the KCRC's 77 trains with the MTR Corp's motif at 4.30pm yesterday.

Throughout the day, train-lovers jammed some KCR station concourses to take pictures. At Kowloon Tong station, single tickets bearing the KCR logo were sold out as travellers snapped them up as last-minute souvenirs.

At 1am, a force of more than 1,000 workers swung into action, replacing every sign and map at the five interchange stations between the networks - and signage at scores of other stations - in time for the start of operations.

The mammoth task, which will take five weeks to complete, involves replacing the super-logos outside 20 KCR stations with MTR Corp logos and putting up more than 25,000 new route maps in trains and 6,050 line maps above platform screen doors.

There are also 29,100 posters and notices, 83,000 stickers and temporary signs, nearly 2,000 line maps on platforms, 1,016 route maps on ticketing machines and 276 station system maps being switched over.

MTR Corp spokeswoman Miranda Leung Chan Che-ming said: 'We were determined to change as much of the signage as possible overnight so customers will have clear information about the new system.

'I am sure that consumers will be able to find room for improvement in some areas. We appeal to them to give us immediate feedback.'

The corporation has posted 200 extra 'customer service ambassadors' at interchange points and other busy stations to answer passengers' queries and offer help.