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Hong Kong high-speed rail

Subpar material concerns on Hong Kong high-speed rail link prompt MTR to vow quality checks

Railway operator emphasises all trains must pass safety and performance tests before entering service

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 8:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 October, 2017, 2:41pm

The MTR Corporation has promised to closely follow up with the train carriage manufacturer for its high-speed railway project linking Hong Kong and Guangzhou after reports that subpar materials may have been used during production.

The firm emphasised all trains must pass safety and performance tests before entering service.

But it did not specify whether extra steps were needed or the commissioning of the HK$84 billion project, slated for September next year, would be delayed.

News agency FactWire reported on Wednesday that Qingdao Sifang, the manufacturer of the rolling stock, had procured raw materials from Kobe Steel in 2013.

Kobe Steel was found earlier this month to have falsified inspection data to cheat compliance tests, with the misrepresentations possibly dating back as far as 10 years.

The Japanese steelmaker told FactWire on Tuesday that it could only verify by the end of October whether the aluminium used on Hong Kong’s trains were safe.

Concerns escalated when it was revealed Qingdao Sifang imported the materials through intermediary Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which has a business relationship with Kobe Steel.

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Both Qingdao and Kawasaki have claimed the batch of materials for the rail project were not affected. However, the latest response from Kobe Steel contradicted their accounts.

Responding to an inquiry from the Post, the MTR Corp said it was closely following up the matter.

We inspect all metal materials used on new trains, including metallurgical analysis
MTR statement

“We inspect all metal materials used on new trains, including metallurgical analysis, to ensure the materials comply with requirements,” a company statement read.

“An independent safety assessment agency has been employed to carry out tests on new trains, and make sure they comply with international safety standards.”

The Transport and Housing Bureau had asked the railway operator about the matter.

Qingdao Sifang was awarded a HK$1.7 billion contract in March 2012 to manufacture nine sets of eight-car trains to run on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

All trains were delivered to the MTR Corp in August.

It was not the first time for the mainland manufacturer to be embroiled in a scandal.

Last year, it was revealed that 35 new trains produced for Singapore’s public transit operator, SMRT Corporation, had structural defects. They were shipped back for repairs.