Escalator was safe, MTR Corp insists

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 July, 2011, 12:00am

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The MTR Corporation subsidiary that operates Shenzhen's subway network says a station escalator on which at least two people were injured on Sunday night 'met safety requirements'.

The accident happened at about 9.15pm at the Baoan district's Qinghu station along Shenzhen's No 4 Metro line. It came six days after a 13-year old boy was killed and 30 people were injured when an escalator suddenly reversed direction at a Beijing subway station.

Mainland newspapers, including the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily and the Guangzhou Daily, reported that four people fell over and were injured when the ascending CNIM escalator - a French brand made on the mainland - reversed direction and shook. But MTR Corp (Shenzhen) said the escalator had not changed direction and it believed that two people had fallen and injured themselves.

The company said footage captured by closed-circuit cameras suggested the two passengers had fallen over on the ascending escalator because another person was seen running towards it some 12 seconds later, with the escalator stopping 15 seconds after that.

However, because the closed- circuit cameras were not directly facing the escalator, it was still unclear what happened.

'During the whole incident, the escalator showed no sign of reversing,' MTR Corp (Shenzhen) said in a statement issued yesterday. Information from the station's control room indicated 'the escalator's emergency button had been pressed'.

The statement said regular inspections of escalators on Shenzhen's Metro system were carried out twice a week. The escalator involved in Sunday's incident was last inspected on July 6 and met safety requirements, it said.

'An initial safety inspection conducted by the Shenzhen Institute of Special Equipment Inspection and Testing after Sunday's accident also suggested the escalator met the authorities' safety requirements,' it said.

However, a woman who injured her nose, back and feet in the accident told yesterday's Yangcheng Evening News from Longhua hospital that 'the ascending escalator suddenly reversed direction'. Another witness was quoted by the newspaper as saying that the escalator was descending before it stopped.

More than 340 Otis escalators along Shenzhen's five Metro lines - of the same model as the one involved in the fatal accident in Beijing - have been suspended from use. The same model was also involved in an accident that injured 25 people in Shenzhen in December.

The mainland's quality watchdog has ordered an immediate halt to the use of Otis 513 MPE model escalators on the mainland.

Seventy-eight escalators of that model are in use on the MTR in Hong Kong. The MTR Corp said an emergency inspection had found all were in good working condition.

It said the design of escalators in Hong Kong's MTR stations met safety requirements.

'The design and manufacture of escalators [in Hong Kong's MTR] comply with the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department's guidelines,' it said.

'Repair and maintenance are also carried out in accordance to the guidelines.'