The MTR Corporation could be fined as much as HK$15 million over the derailment of a light-rail train in Yuen Long on Friday that saw 77 passengers going to hospitals, the transport chief said.
The MTR yesterday apologised for the accident, the most serious derailment in the light-rail network's 25-year history.
A recently revised fare-adjustment mechanism that penalises any suspension of services lasting more than eight hours made such a fine possible, Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said at the site of the crash.
"If the incident is not something the MTR cannot control, it can be fined," he said. "And since the suspension lasted for more than eight hours, the maximum fine would be HK$15 million."
Both carriages of the light-rail train left the tracks at 4.15pm on Friday. Services did not resume until 8.10am yesterday.
Of the 150 passengers, 77 aged between six months and 70 years were taken to five hospitals. Six remained in hospital yesterday.
MTR chief executive Jay Walder, who accompanied Cheung, apologised to those affected.
"This is a serious accident," he said. "It's of great concern to the MTR. I apologise to everyone."
Walder said the company would also report the matter to the Legislative Council on Friday.
The operator had conducted special inspections of 19 other light-rail carriages from the same production batch as the one that derailed and all were deemed safe, an MTR spokeswoman said.
The batch was the newest purchased by the company, with one of the derailed carriages going into service in 2009, and the other the following year.
Cheung said both the police and the MTR were investigating. Whether or not a fine would be imposed would depend on the findings of a full report from the MTR, which he hoped would be completed within three days.
The report would examine whether the accident had anything to do with manufacturing problems, he said.
The train parts were made in Australia using German systems. They were assembled by a subsidiary of CSR Corporation - the state-owned manufacturer of the two high-speed trains involved in a 2011 crash in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, in which 40 people died. A report on that accident blamed it largely on a software bug in the main computer of the train control system at a station.
The MTR took over the operations of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, including the light-rail network, in 2007.