Two-month inquiry into power failure that crippled Hong Kong railway line

Company executive apologises for disruption that halted services for over four hours

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 May, 2017, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 May, 2017, 10:29pm

The city’s railway operator will conduct a two-month inquiry into the power failure on Thursday near Hung Hom that disrupted services along the East Rail Line for over four hours.

MTR Corp’s chief of operating Francis Li Shing-kee apologised to the public on Friday for the disruption caused to thousands of stranded passengers.

“I am really sorry for what happened and call for public understanding.”

He said an overhead cable between Hung Hom and Mong Kok East snapped and collapsed at around 3pm, knocking out power and bringing a train to a sudden halt 400 metres from Mong Kok East station.

Some 110 passengers had to get out and walk along tracks to the nearest platform.

“The overhead cable is responsible for transmitting electricity to the train. We also discovered that two pantographs for collection of electricity on the train’s roof were damaged,” Li said.

“As the pantographs exert pulling forces on the cable, we’ll investigate the causal relationship between the two to identify the cause of this power fault.”

He said it had been several years since a cable had snapped but ruled out the possibility of a foreign object causing the incident.

“Our technical staff had thoroughly inspected the area last night and they did not discover any foreign objects.”

Li stressed that the technical crew ran visual checks on overhead cables every three days and each year they used elevated platforms to conduct major inspections of overhead line equipment.

He said the problem was different to an incident on the Kwun Tong Line last month that halted trains for over two hours. That shutdown was caused by the loosening of two components supporting an overhead cable inside a tunnel. Thursday’s incident happened in the open air.

Li said it had taken longer than usual to restore services because the fallen cable affected other equipment within 400 metres. “Apart from fixing the glitches, our technical staff also needed to inspect the affected area and test all the equipment before resuming service.

“They took quite a long time to conduct checks,” he said, adding that 400 staff were mobilised to help stranded passengers find other transport.