Burst water pipe causes further delays as MTR scrambles to restore services before peak hour
Travel time was nearly doubled for many rail passengers on Thursday morning, with many opting to use bus or taxi services instead, while a Water Services Department spokesman said a government unit was still investigating the cause of the burst pipe
Tens of thousands of passengers on the East Rail line had their trips disrupted for about five hours on Thursday after train services were delayed between Fanling and Sheung Shui stations by a rare burst of 2.1 metre-diametre cross-border trunk water main.
Train services between the Hung Hom terminus and and Lo Wu / Lok Ma Chau terminus, were extended by 15-20 minutes between 11am and nearly 4pm on Thursday as the underground section of the trunk water main on Sun Wan Road in Sheung Shui bursted.
The rushing water washed off rail ballast, which forced a 20 metre -30 metre section of the south-bound rail between Sheung Shui and Fanling to be suspended and leave the other rail track on a two-way traffic.
The trunk water main, which imports fresh water from Dongjiang River bursted for the second time this year after March when a section in Tai Po bursted on ageing pipeline. And the last time it bursted was in 2007, according to a Water Services Department spokesman.
“We are still investigating why it happened,” he said. “It is a rare case in terms of having water spilled into the rail track.”
He added that repair work is still underway on the section of the pipeline in question last night, but water supply will not be affected.
MTR operation manager of the East Rail line, Allen Ding Ka-chun said the broken pipe prompted water to flood the rail track, washed off parts of rail ballast and disrupted the signalling system.
Most of the time was spent replenishing rail ballast, which served as a vital support for the track, he said.
The train services gradually resumed since about 3:45pm.
A free MTR shuttle bus service was put in operation between Tai Po Market Station and Lo Wu Station / Lok Ma Chau Station, via Tai Wo Station, Fanling Station and Sheung Shui Station.
Still, hundreds of passengers were stuck at Tai Wo Station and Shui Shui Station at around noon, with some going to bus stations nearby and dozens waiting for taxis.
Outside Sheung Shui station, hundreds of passengers were queuing up at a taxi station in the sweltering weather, with some making phone calls to apologise for being late.
Among them was Cheery Lam, 12, a Form 1 student, who just finished her morning classes at school.
Lam said she usually took the MTR to get back to home in Fanling for lunch. But the journey took her almost an hour today.
“It is just one stop away,” said Lam. “It takes less than five minutes [normally] by MTR.”
Some engineers said the burst saga highlighted the need to improve drainage system along train stations.