Trams to get better braking system

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 September, 2010, 12:00am

An emergency braking system to be installed on Hong Kong's trams next year will improve safety but could mean a sudden jolt for passengers.

The track-brake system - part of a HK$200 million renovation for the public transport system - will reduce the braking distance from 14 metres to 10.5 metres in an emergency.

'When the whole fleet is done I hope the accident rate could be cut by 10 to 15 per cent,' said Bruno Charrade, Hong Kong Tramways' managing director. The service has about 200 minor accidents a year, a third of them involving pedestrians.

During a demonstration yesterday, a tram installed with the new track-brake and which was travelling at 30 km/h stopped five metres short of its usual stopping distance, but the impact was greater for passengers.

Tramways senior engineering manager Steven Chan said the jolt did not exceed international standards.

'We will only use that new brake in an urgent situation,' he said.

The company has asked the government for a 50 HK cent increase on the HK$2 fare to fund the improvements to the system.

A passenger information system will be introduced regardless of the outcome of the fare-rise application. By March, all 118 tram stations will be named and have a route map. Commuters will also be informed of the exact time of arrival for the next tram when real-time traffic panels are fitted at stops.