MTR commuters suffer two-hour disruption after crack found in track
MTR launches probe as rush-hour commuters suffer delays and long queues after engineers find damaged line near Diamond Hill station
The MTR Corporation will investigate what caused a crack in a section of rail between Diamond Hill and Wong Tai Sin stations that disrupted train services on the Kwun Tong line for about two hours during the morning rush hour yesterday.
Unstable signals were detected between the two stations shortly before 7am and engineers spotted a crack in a section of track near Diamond Hill station at around 7.20am.
Trains heading to Yau Ma Tei were slowed and it took trains eight minutes to reach Wong Tai Sin from Diamond Hill, compared to the usual three minutes. The delays resulted in an additional travel time of up to 20 minutes along the entire line.
Scores of commuters had to wait outside some stations as gates were closed to ease the overcrowding.
"I have been waiting for so long. Four or five trains have passed and I can't even board the train," said one passenger.
Another said: "It's annoying. There are always delays."
Trains resumed normal speed at about 9am after an iron fastener was installed to reinforce the damaged section. The MTR said the section would be replaced to ensure passenger safety.
May Wong May-kay, general manager of the company's corporate relations, apologised for the disruption. She told a radio programme that inspections on that rail were carried out last month, by eye and ultrasonic testing machines.
According to the MTR, more than 1,600 train services per week have been added to its network since 2012 to meet growing demand.
Another 600 additional weekly train trips were added across the network from the end of August, of which more than 70 trips were allocated to the Kwun Tong line, which has 14 stations.
Albert Lai Kwong-tak, policy committee convenor of the Professional Commons think tank, said the latest incident indicated "there was a management issue over the railway's preventive maintenance programme". He suspected the programme was not updated after the increase of train services.
"There's a lack of attention from the management on the matter … It diverted many resources overseas, the MTR is now managing the rail systems of seven cities abroad," Lai added.
Transport Secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung also expressed concerns over the latest disruption and said the MTR was expected to submit a report to the Transport Department. "If there are any structural problems with the tracks, from a safety point of view, it must be dealt with prudently," he said.
But Cheung said he could not determine if the latest incident was serious in nature, adding that the government would require the MTR to carry out a review on its system if necessary.
There were eight train delays in the first seven months of this year which lasted 31 minutes or more.