Hundreds of passengers had to walk through a railway tunnel after a train broke down in rush hour in Mei Foo yesterday, causing delays for nearly two hours on the West Rail Line.
The MTR Corporation said the breakdown was caused by an electrical fault in a Hung Hom-bound train shortly after it left Mei Foo station at about 8am. The train behind it also got stuck and about 900 passengers had to walk 100 metres back through the tunnel to reach a platform.
Service was suspended or reduced until 9.40am, causing long waits for many commuters. Some complained that there were no broadcast messages on the train to explain what happened, and said the arrangements were chaotic.
MTR director of operations Dr Jacob Kam Chak-pui said the power supply in a section between Nam Cheong and Mei Foo stations was cut off after a safety device was tripped. 'It is believed the power stoppage was caused by the incident train,' he said. 'We will conduct a thorough investigation to identify the cause.'
He apologised to passengers but insisted the arrangements were appropriate. 'The most important message to passengers at that moment was to what extent we could maintain our services, and the shuttle bus arrangements. Explaining what happened to our electrical devices would not have offered any direct help.'
Meanwhile, the service between Olympic and Nam Cheong stations, on the West Rail Line, slowed down for 11/2 hours at around noon. An MTR Corp spokeswoman said the control room had received a report of a man on the track and told trains to travel 'at an extremely slow speed', adding three to four minutes to the journey. No one was found on the track.
Responding to concerns some mainland-made MTR trains might be of poorer quality than others after a series of incidents, Kam said the train involved in yesterday's breakdown was not mainland-made.
MTR Corp chairman Dr Raymond Chien Kuo-fung said: 'There will always be incidents, and we regret any inconvenience caused, but I believe we have handled the matter appropriately.'
Train services were maintained every five to 10 minutes between Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan West, and Nam Cheong and Hung Hom. Shuttle buses serviced other stations. Platforms were crowded during the disruption. One woman said she was delayed by over 40 minutes.
Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing said he was late for the Legislative Council meeting because of the disruption. It was adjourned due to poor attendance. The Transport Department said it was 'very concerned' about the incident and has requested a report from the MTR Corp in three working days.