MTR track 'safe' despite crack

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 December, 2007, 12:00am

A hairline fracture found during an inspection of rail tracks at Tai Wai on the MTR's East Rail line caused marginal delays to passengers, but had no safety implications, the rail operator said.

Checks of track on the rest of the former KCRC network found no similar cracks, and an engineering consultant hired last year to investigate the state of East Rail track said it was not uncommon to find hairline cracks in rails.

The crack was found at a crossover 500 metres south of Tai Wai station at 3.30pm on Thursday, an MTR spokesman said yesterday.

Passengers experienced delays of about a minute. The cracked rail has been replaced.

Electrical engineer Ho Siu-lau, who was hired by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation last year to investigate cracks on East Rail, said: 'Vibration caused by cracks of such size is minimal ... if it had grown any bigger it would have been picked up by a newly introduced optical fibre system which monitors irregularities in the stresses on train components and rail track.'

Professor Ho said he did not observe any premature ageing of tracks. 'In fact, I think the KCRC was replacing more rail tracks than was required,' he said.

This year, the KCRC replaced 36 per cent of uneven East Rail track. The track was deemed to have caused increased vibration, which put more stress on train components, causing cracks in more than 1,000.