A burst water main disrupted services on the East Rail Line yesterday, prompting lengthy delays for hundreds of passengers just one day after the rail operator increased its fares.
The damaged pipe shot a jet of water some 20 metres into the air - high enough to hit the overhead electricity cables close to Fo Tan station and cause a power failure that disrupted services for almost two hours.
Services between Sha Tin and Tai Po Market were completely suspended for about an hour after the pipe burst shortly before 2.30pm. Limited services then resumed on that section of line using a single track for both directions. Waiting times were about 15 minutes. Delays also hit other sections of the line, with services from Tai Po Market to Lo Wu running at eight-minute intervals and between Tai Po Market to Lok Ma Chau at 25-minute intervals. Services from Hung Hom to Sha Tin ran every eight minutes.
"If I had any other more convenient transport choices, I wouldn't take the MTR," said Connie Chan, a 33-year-old clerk who was waiting at Fo Tan for a southbound train to Sha Tin. "It's just unacceptable to have services delayed just one day after the fare hike."
The MTR Corporation increased fares by an average of 3.6 per cent this week despite recording a net profit of HK$13 billion for the financial year.
The MTR, which is 76.5 per cent government-owned, has also come under fire after admitting that all five of its expansion projects have been delayed.
Yesterday, it put on free shuttle bus services between Tai Po Market and Sha Tin for the hundreds of passengers facing delays. But many complained of unclear instructions on where to line up, some saying they waited for more than half an hour before they could board a bus.
"I think I'm just lucky that I'm not late as I left home early, but I'm disappointed about the delay and the arrangements," said Susan Lau, a 64-year-old on her way to meet friends, as she waited for a shuttle bus at Fo Tan.
An MTR spokesman said the company had immediately sent repairmen to fix the overhead electricity cables. The spokesman said that the East Rail Line had resumed normal services by 4.17pm.
A spokesman for the Water Supplies Department said that the pipe - used for flushing water and 375mm in diameter - was thought to have been damaged by works at a nearby construction site. The department had immediately sent workers to repair the pipe, he added.