Seven injured in Ocean Park train accident

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 December, 2010, 12:00am

Seven people were injured, one critically, when a train driver triggered the emergency braking system by mistake on the Ocean Express tunnel railway at Ocean Park yesterday, bringing two trains to a sudden halt.

A 70-year-old man was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam with facial injuries and was in critical condition. His wife was also admitted suffering from injuries to her face and knees. The other five people were admitted to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai with injuries to their faces and limbs.

The incident happened at 12.15pm, with 107 passengers on the two trains - 63 heading uphill and 44 heading down. All the injured were from the train going towards the summit.

Ocean Park said the 'cause of the abrupt stop ... was accidental and as a result of the operator on the attraction accidentally activating the track brake system'.

It added: 'Ocean Park extends its apology to the injured guests and guests inconvenienced by this incident. Guest safety is always the park's greatest priority. Since opening in September last year the Ocean Express has carried approximately 5.3 million guests and there have been no incidents such as this previously.'

The incident left the trains stalled about 100 metres from Ocean Park's Waterfront and Summit stations. The service was suspended for the rest of the day and will be reopened after a switch protector is installed.

One of the passengers, Louis Charm Man-yung, 40, said workers arrived to help and to open the train doors three to five minutes after the brake was applied.

'The train stopped suddenly with a bang after running for two minutes. People in the front compartment fell,' Charm said. 'I was sitting in the rear compartment. A man in his 60s was unable to get up after falling and I saw his mouth bleeding.'

Another passenger said: 'None of the seats had seat belts, so when the train braked, people fell. I was lucky that I was leaning against the wall.'

Matthias Li Shing-chung, deputy chief executive of Ocean Park, said staff checked the trains daily before operation. The trains were inspected once a month and experts carried out thorough checks at least once a year.

The Ocean Express was built by the Swiss company Garaventa and the trains were made by Gangloff Switzerland.

The tunnel railway was built as an alternative to the signature cable car for visitors to move between the park's upper and lower areas.

The two trains, which resemble submarines, travel in opposite directions through the 1.3 kilometre tunnel in three minutes. The maximum speed is 10 metres per second.

Each train can carry up to 250 passengers but has only 40 seats, none of which have seat belts. The lights are dimmed throughout the journey as animation is played on ceiling panels to simulate an undersea environment.

A park spokeswoman refused to comment on whether the number of seats or the dark environment contributed to the injuries. 'Our engineers will make improvements if an investigation finds it necessary.'