Hong Kong MTR

There was room for improvement in handling chaos after rail system was halted, operator says

But MTRC chairman Frederick Ma rejects call for affected passengers to be compensated as there were so many

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 8:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 9:53pm

The head of the city’s rail operator admitted there was room for improvement in handling the chaos after services were halted on the Kwun Tong line on Monday night, but he ruled out compensation for affected passengers.

But a transport concern group said the rail company should at least compensate those who were sent to hospital.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, MTR Corporation chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang said his staff had been investigating the incident and he hoped they could give a detailed account to the public when the Legislative Council is due to discuss the shutdown on April 28.

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“We are carrying out an investigation. We take this matter seriously. The Secretary for Transport and Housing has written to me expressing his concern. And we’ll do a very thorough investigation and try to make sure we learn a lesson,” he said.

“From my point of view, I believe there is room for improvement concerning the handling of this incident,” he added.

Road traffic was plunged into chaos in east Kowloon on Monday night after a power fault halted MTR trains between Kwun Tong and Kowloon Tong for over two hours, forcing stranded passengers to join long queues for shuttle buses or other public transport.

At least eight passengers were sent to hospital after they were overcome in stuffy trains after air conditioning was shut down.

At Choi Hung station, passengers were forced to leave a stranded train inside a tunnel and walk along the track after the electricity supply was cut.

MTR operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing earlier said the shutdown was caused by a device on an overhead cable on the track linking the Kowloon Bay depot and Choi Hung station.

Ma said their investigation would find out why it took over two hours to resume normal rail services.

It is very difficult to compensate affected passengers as there were so many
Frederick Ma, MTRC chairman

“We certainly hope that similar incidents will not happen again. But the key is making sure that our passengers are well taken care of during situations like this,” he added.

However, Ma was quick to rule out any compensation for affected commuters. “It is very difficult to compensate affected passengers as there were so many,” he said.

The rail giant is expected to pay a fine of up to HK$3 million for causing the suspension of service. The money will be used for fare concessions.

Quentin Cheng Hin-kei, spokesman for the Public Transport Research Team, said what made people furious was not the power failure, but the fact that it took the MTR at least an hour to evacuate passengers.

“The MTR could have evacuated stranded passengers immediately. This level of service is really unacceptable. The MTR should give some form of compensation to passengers sent to hospital,” he said.