Power cut on East Rail Line is second MTR disruption in five days, prompting safety call

Cross-border train services were affected Tuesday as four trains left stranded due to faulty wire

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 10:57pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 10:57pm

A power failure near Lo Wu MTR station left cross-border train services on the East Rail Line badly disrupted yesterday afternoon – the second major delay faced by MTR in five days.

The company said power was accidentally cut off at around 12.15pm, leaving four trains travelling from Fanling to Lok Ma Chau stranded for a few minutes. The power failure resulted from damaged and dislodged overhead wires at a slope near Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau.

Trains resumed operation soon after power was restored in most areas except two of the four platforms at Lo Wu Station.

Service resumed on Hong Kong’s Airport Express and Tung Chung rail lines after five-hour disruption

An MTR spokeswoman said: “The exact cause of the accident can only be determined by a thorough investigation during non-traffic hours on Wednesday morning”.

For the remainder of yesterday, trains only arrived once every 4.5 minutes at stations between Hung Hom and Tai Po Market, and every 10 minutes at stations between Hung Hom and Lok Ma Chau. The usual waiting time between trains is only about three minutes.

The company repaired the damaged overhead wires after train services finished yesterday.

Last Friday, a damaged wire caused service disruptions for nearly five hours on the Airport Express and the Tung Chung Line, forcing a Hong Kong Station-bound train carrying 1,000 passengers to return to Tung Chung.

For yesterday’s incident, MTR staff revealed on social media that the cause was a damaged insulator. A picture was released on Twitter, which showed that an insulator had fallen from a ruptured overhead wire. The wire was left dangling in the air.

Lo Kok-keung, a retired Polytechnic University engineering professor, said the issue of ageing overhead equipment on train lines warranted public concern.

“The wires are durable and usually last for five to six years. But they are subjected to all sorts of physical damage as they experience different weather conditions,” he said, adding that MTR Corporation should replace ageing equipment for safety.

He said overhead wire damage was difficult to fix on the fly, and could only be attended to during non-service hours. “MTR probably solved the problem with some temporary solutions [following the incident].”

Lo added trains would have to travel slowly at the damaged stretch of the track in order to avoid stressing the rupture, which could cause longer waiting times for passengers.

MTR Corp said that as trains came less frequently than usual in the afternoon, free shuttle bus services were arranged to accommodate passengers from Sheung Shui to Lo Wu.