Driver in Ocean Park train accident was sick, management says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 December, 2010, 12:00am

The train driver involved in an accident at Ocean Park that injured seven passengers, one critically, on Sunday was sick at the time, according to park management.

The man's condition might have contributed to the accident on the Ocean Express tunnel railway, deputy chief executive Matthias Li Shing-chung said yesterday.

The driver, who has been in the job for more than a year, is believed to have mistakenly engaged the emergency brake.

'We've asked the colleague involved to stop working temporarily,' Li said. 'Arrangements were made for him to see a doctor to see if he had any other problems.'

Li said the park would submit a report to the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department in two days.

The injured passengers were covered by the park's insurance and would receive compensation accordingly, he said.

The park has added metal protectors to the control panel to cover the brake switches since the accident, but the funicular railway will remain out of service while the investigation continues. A park spokeswoman said the safety feature for the brakes was approved by the Swiss maker of the train, Garaventa.

The railway connects the Waterfront and the Summit areas of the park through a tunnel and the cars travel at up to 10 metres per second.

Seven people were injured when the driver triggered the emergency braking system by mistake at 12.15pm on Sunday. Two trains - one heading uphill and the other down - came to a sudden halt, throwing many passengers to the floor. The seven injured were among 63 passengers on the uphill train.

The condition of the critically injured 70-year-old passenger improved to serious yesterday and that of his 67-year-old wife, also in Queen Mary Hospital, was stable. The rest of the injured had been released.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said the park had submitted an initial report on Sunday. As the case appeared to have involved human error, the park was required to review its safety measures.

The park spokeswoman said the driver was qualified and had been doing the job since the attraction opened in August last year. She said he had been performing well.