• Sun
  • Sep 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:32pm
NewsHong Kong

Thousands hit in five hours of travel chaos after MTR power blackout

Thousands suffer as loose cable halts trains, leaving six stations shut and bus terminals jammed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 2:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2013, 12:23pm

A power failure on the Tseung Kwan O line halted MTR services for nearly five hours yesterday, plunging the city's transport network into chaos.

A Yau Ma Tei-bound train broke down in a tunnel at 12.40pm, forcing about 150 passengers to walk on the track to Yau Tong station.

Trains were affected on the whole Tseung Kwan O Line and between Tiu Keng Leng and Lam Tin on the Kwun Tong Line.

The train slowed down after an explosion … then there were two more explosions

Cross-harbour services were also halted for more than an hour in what was the worst disruption on the line in a decade.

Six MTR stations were forced to close, leaving thousands of passengers in limbo and causing a rush to bus stations, which were quickly jammed.

Commuters were angered by the failure of the MTR Corp's contingency plans. Services did not resume until 5.35pm.

An inspection found that a 30-metre section of an overhead power line had come loose and dangled as low as one metre from the tunnel ceiling between Yau Tong and Tiu Keng Leng stations. Lo Chi-ho, divisional commander of Kowloon East's Fire Services Department, said: "We suspect a train was travelling in this section of the tunnel and was in contact with the overhead power cable, causing a power failure."

He said inspectors found damage to a section of the cable and the top of the train.

The Transport and Housing Bureau demanded that the MTR Corp submits a report on the incident within three working days.

Watch: Passengers walk through the tunnel on the MTR's Tseung Kwan O Line

Transport secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said: "We will take this into account in the fare adjustment mechanism under which a penalty system also applies."

Under the system, the MTR Corp will be fined up to HK$7.5 million for service disruptions lasting about five hours.

Adi Lau Tin-shing, deputy director (operating) of the MTR Corp, apologised for the disruption, but refused to say whether the design of the mainland-made train had anything to do with it.

"It is too early to draw any conclusion before a detailed investigation is carried out," he said. Lau said the section of cable concerned had its annual check in October. He also denied there were any explosions, as some passengers claimed, saying this was just the loud noise caused when the train protection system was triggered on trains heading for Yau Tong station.

One passenger, Sky Chan, said: "The train slowed down after an explosion. It stopped, and then there were two more explosions."

Another commuter also said he heard an explosion minutes after the train left Tiu Keng Leng station. Po Lam, Hang Hau, Tseung Kwan O, Lohas Park, Tiu Keng Leng and Yau Tong stations were closed with signs saying: "This station will be closed because of a serious incident. Please leave immediately."

At 2pm, cross-harbour services resumed by using a disused tunnel between Lam Tin and Quarry Bay.

New People's Party lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, a former chairman of the Kowloon-Canton Railway, said the MTR Corp's failure to repair the system before the evening peak hour deserved an explanation at the next meeting of Legco's railway subcommittee on January 3.

Another device on another train on the Kwun Tong line heading to Yau Tong was also grounded after running into a similar problem. 

Lau Ting Sing, MTR's deputy director of operation, said the activation caused loud noises that passengers described as "explosions."

Lau said the company would investigate the cause of incident after train service ends tonight, but added that the cables were usually inspected once a year and the last inspection was October.

One of the passengers, Sky Chan, said: “The train slowed down after an ‘explosion’. It stopped then, followed by another two sounds of explosion.”

The train arriving from the Tseung Kwan O station stopped in the tunnel about 20 metres away from the platform at Yau Tong station.

Passengers onboard had to alight from the train and walk to the platform.

One fireman said more than 100 were evacuated from the train.

“This station will be closed because of a serious incident. Please leave immediately” was displayed on the sign in the Yau Tong station.


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This article is now closed to comments

There may be a design flaw in MTR. If the loosened bolt of an overhead cable that has caused the service disruption, it will beg the question if no other loosened bolts in the future? Or more fundamental question is why there are overhead electrical cables over the train and tracks. Why the electrical supply for the train located not along the side of the tracks which I believe how it is done for the New York Subway.
To the Dislike (2):
I made a logical conclusion as well as a comparison. So please tell me in words what do you mean by Dislike. The Dislike is meaningless without articulation. I wonder who would be interested in taking the trouble to express displeasure of my comments?
JAY-SUS! Move on and stop being a miserable ****, it's nearly Christmas so cheer up!
To Wendie:
Why limit to Christmas?
To newyorkgirl:
You haven’t been or lived in New York as your alias implied. The subway system there is the second oldest in the world (London is the oldest). The current system is actually make up once three separate systems. By appearance of their stations, some retain their past design and others been upgraded beginning in the 80s. When come to services, they are as good as Hong Kong’s MTR. Or actually even better as the trains can run not just on two tracks but three. The third track is for express trains with adaptive direction depending of the traffic flow at peak hours which is marvelous way to saving time for passengers. Lament that later subways in Hong Kong and elseway didn't pick up this feature. I am glad that the new line that is still under construction in NYC wisely incorporated with a third track.
BTW, I like you to report here what were the frequent breakdown incidences that took place even for the last decade in New York City’s subway system. Watch out of your public pronouncement from hearsays that fabrications can be easily detected. They can bring you shame had you used your name for the posting like I always do. Your credibility is shot.
I am a second generation New Yorker, grew up in Queens, worked on Wall Street. I have taken the trains when it was covered in graffiti, static mimicking train announcements, and of course the famous overhead fans before air con. Normal waiting time 10-15 minutes for the J train, it is an outdoor, elevated platform with 1 track coming into the station, the other side leaving the station. On cold days or rainy days the waiting time could be 30-45 minutes. In order to get information on the delay, trudge down 2 flights of stairs to the ticket booth and they will sagely tell you it's raining or snowing or I dunno just wait! MTA workers wanting to be polite use the "electrical wiring" excuse quite frequently. Do you honestly believe disruption of this kind gets coverage in a city as big as NY? Shootings are not even cover! Try taking the 9,5,Z or the RR. Leave Manhattan and it's a whole different ball game my friend.
To newyork.......
I feel sorry for anyone who can’t appreciate the efficient and safe way of commuting by subway in New York City to work or shop etc. If one has to glorify Hong Kong’s newer installation by painting the New York’s like as if it is a hell, it is not only making exaggerations but doing so with other motives. I don’t know what. You are bringing in the graffiti period in the early 70s into a current argument. Again, I am not sure your experience claimed in New York City really not from hearsays but foolishly applied in the present denouncement.
Your claim that a subway crime wouldn't be covered in the news is truly astonding that a fabrication which has no boundary.
BTW, I don't think Wall Street folks would pick to live in Queens. It is just a bit inconvenient though housing there is cheaper. But why Queens when most of them are loaded. They live in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Long Island who drive or take commuting buses.
Bring everything current please. Better still, go and experience above or under the ground yourself. Come back and tell me again.
Sir, your accusations of fabrication can be answered by a saying we oftentimes use "we don't have to prove nothing to nobody because we don't give a ****";however, my mom has pounded into her children that we should always respect our elders. So here goes, your adoration of my hometown warms my heart not just in this posting but in your other postings as well, even though your views are very often viewed through rose-tinted glasses. Street muggings, shootings, rapes if not heinous are not cover by the media, let alone normal subway disruptions. My point in bringing up the olden days of our subway system is to try to make you comprehend I've been taking the trains since I've been in diapers. Brooklyn and Queens housing prices are on par, depending on which neighborhoods of course. The norm for Long Island would be a home for r & r on the weekends. Regular people work on Wall Street as well as the people who are "loaded". Loaded people do not drive they are chauffeured, normal people take mass transit due to congestion on our bridges getting into downtown. Like all big cities it's a great place to live if you can afford it.
Dear newyorkgirl,
If an argument is based on irrelevent time, so what is the point of argument except leading others to doubt you as I have. Still, if you are a true New Yorkers, may you learn a lesson from your mistake. Anyone has the right to refute wrong statements.
BTW, Long Island is not just for the weekends.
It is incredible people commenting in their postings at SCMP can make up stories to get a point expecting everyone to be fooled believing in them. I guess because of only a handful of people who read SCMP and write in their comment that a false security has created by them who most likely will not do the same at NYTimes or WSJ.
I incline to guess an individual is unlikely to sell their integrity with dishonesty. It is more likely most of these fabricated stories are a group effort that bears with agenda to disrupt our eyes and mind day in and day out. They would be happy when SCMP closes its comment section for the readers so their lives can continue without our interruptions.




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