Confusion as MTR passengers left stranded

They say information and contingency plans lacking after shutdown of Tseung Kwan O line

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2013, 4:46am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2013, 5:38am

Chaos reigned yesterday as MTR passengers travelling from East Kowloon and Sai Kung scrambled for alternative transport after the Tseung Kwan O line was shut down due to a power failure.

Many of those waiting on the platforms at Yau Tong station appeared confused by an announcement that the train service would be suspended for the whole day and passengers were told to leave the station immediately as it would be closed.

Their patience had already been tested by a prolonged wait for trains, but previous messages had warned of a 10-minute service disruption because of power problems.

There were chaotic scenes in Yau Tong, and elsewhere along the railway line. Frustrated passengers complained about the MTR's poor arrangements for alternative transport and a lack of information.

A long line of passengers stood clutching umbrellas in the driving rain outside Kwun Tong station, queuing for free shuttle buses to other stations. But some complained the buses were going to other stations affected by the shutdown. "What's the point of sending us there?" one passenger asked an MTR employee in Kwun Tong, who did not reply.

Taxis also proved elusive on a cold, wet day, with long queues at cab ranks along the line.

Clerk Vicky Lam waited for over an hour for a taxi outside Kwun Tong station. She said the MTR staff did not seem to care about the predicament of stranded passengers. Lam said she had seen an elderly passenger asking about shuttle buses, and the MTR employee simply said the bus service wasn't ready and they would have to make their own way. "They had no idea what bus to take," Lam said. "The MTR needs to reflect on their attitude."

Tse Sit-lai, who was heading to Tseung Kwan O from Admiralty and had waited at the North Point station for half an hour, was furious about the MTR's lack of contingency plans. He said the announcements were not loud enough, so many people didn't know the service had been stopped until they got to an interchange point. He also said shuttle buses had only been provided at Kwun Tong station, and not North Point.

Alvin Chan Lap-kwok said he was an hour late for work in Hang Hau after he was stranded in Kwun Tong. Chan said the company had improved its response to such incidents, but he was upset that there were frequent problems on the line. "Sometimes when I'm on the morning shift the train suddenly stops for a long time and I'm late," Chan said. "Today I'm on the afternoon shift and again there's a problem."

Another Hong Kong Island-bound passenger said she left Hang Hau station straight after the announcement that the line was suspended. "There was a rush for the exits and by the time I got outside there were already long queues for taxis and buses," she said, adding that she took a bus to Lohas Park and managed to find a taxi there.

Jack Cheung Ki-tang, a district councillor for Yau Tong, said many passengers were disoriented when they arrived to find the station was closed. "The arrangements by the MTR were chaotic … a lot of people told me they had no idea what was happening when they got to the station."

Additional reporting by Carol Cheung and Edward Tang



January 2013
Fire breaks out at North Point’s Tseung Kwan O line platform; services suspended for three hours; 300 passengers affected

October 2012
Loose metal ventilation duct blocks tunnel; services between Admiralty and Sheung Wan suspended for two hours; thousands affected

May 2012
Gap filler comes loose from a tunnel ceiling, gets entangled in the pantograph of a passing train at Mei Foo; services suspended for 90 minutes; passengers walk 100 metres back to station

October 2010
Power fault on a train; services between Yau Ma Tei and Jordan suspended for three hours; thousands affected

January 2010
Data network transmission failures at an operation control centre halt East Rail services from Hung Hom to Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau for an hour; 10,000 passengers affected

August 2009
Malfunctioning transformer halts train at Ho Man Tin; services between Mong Kok East and East Tsim Sha Tsui suspended for 40 minutes; 1,200 passengers affected

April 2009
Damaged overhead power cable halts services between Chai Wan and Heng Fa Chuen for three hours; 200 passengers walk 500 metres back to station

December 2008
Damaged overhead power cable causes three short circuits; services between Yau Tong and Tiu Keng Leng suspended for 3-1⁄2 hours; 18,000 affected

August 2008
Short circuit blows fuse and hits the power supply to a train on the Island Line between Shau Kei Wan and Heng Fa Chuen; 180 passengers walk 250 metres through tunnel back to Heng Fa Chuen

October 2004
Short circuit strands 1,500 passengers for 15 minutes on train en route to Quarry Bay; explosion heard and black smoke seen

June 2001
Problems at Siu Ho Wan depot; Airport Express and Tung Chung Line services suspended for four hours; thousands affected