Hong Kong MTR

MTR reveals cause of East Rail Line disruption

A faulty pantograph – which is used to collect power through contact with the overhead cable – caused the cable to snap, triggering a short circuit, investigators found

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 May, 2017, 3:50pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 May, 2017, 9:36pm

A power failure two weeks ago that disrupted services along the East Rail Line for four and a half hours was caused by a damaged device on an MTR train’s roof, it was revealed on Wednesday.

The service disruption on May 18 along the East Rail Line left thousands of passengers stranded and scrambling for alternative transport during the evening rush hour.

The overhead cable between Hung Hom and Mong Kok East suddenly 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.

A faulty British-made pantograph – which is used to collect power through contact with the overhead cable – caused the cable between Hung Hom and Mong Kok East to snap, triggering a short circuit when the train was travelling towards Mong Kok East, according to an MTR Corporation paper submitted to the Legislative Council’s subcommittee on railway matters.

The railway operator said that according to its preliminary investigation, the pantograph was found damaged before it caused the cable breakage that knocked out power.

“Our preliminary investigation showed the incident was caused by the damaged pantograph breaking the cable. The whole incident had nothing to do with the cable itself,” it said.

The firm said the damaged apparatus, which is mounted on the roof of the train, was confirmed to be in a normal condition after being inspected some 19 days before the incident. Usually, the devices undergo an inspection once every 21 days, the firm said.

Introduced to the East Rail Line trains since 2014, there are a total of 26 pantographs of the same model in service.

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The rail operator said it still needed another two months to find out what caused the damage to the device.

“The MTR Corporation is now joining hands with the manufacturer of this model and independent experts to investigate the cause of the pantograph’s damage,” it said.

The rail firm added that its technical staff had inspected the other 25 pantographs and no irregularities had been found.

However, for the sake of ensuring safety, the firm said it was going to replace all the old model pantographs, to be completed by early June.

The MTR has also set aside HK$7.5 million for penalties for the service disruption, to be used as fare concessions next year.