MTR staff have little idea of what to do when animals get onto railway tracks because the company has not set guidelines, a coalition of three staff unions said yesterday, amid anger at the death of a dog run over by a train last week.
The coalition said Wednesday's incident - which has sparked protests, memorials and an online petition condemning the MTR Corporation for not stopping the cross-border train that struck the animal - was not a first.
"It has happened before. The staff have faced a lot of pressure," said Mak Pui-tung, of the MTR Staff General Association. In previous incidents, staff had been able to rescue the dogs because the animals were calm and did not struggle, Mak said.
Video: Death of dog on MTR tracks sparks outrage in Hong Kong
Lam Shiu-wai, rights and welfare officer at the Railway Management Professionals Union, said the MTR Corporation should install platform doors at all stations to prevent animals from getting onto the track.
The MTR Corporation said its staff first spotted the dog at Sheung Shui station and held back local trains while they attempted to coax it to safety. But trains resumed after eight minutes as the situation was "considered safe". It was found dead at Fanling, the next station on the East Rail line, shortly afterwards, after being hit by an express train from Guangzhou.
The staff involved in the rescue attempt have been strongly criticised on social media. A video of the incident, posted online, showed them using a chair to try to help the dog onto the platform. Critics said they seemed unsure of how to use a stick they had with them.
The dog tried to clamber onto the platform, but witnesses said passengers who tried to help the animal up were told to get back by staff at the scene.
But Kwok Chi-keung, vice-chairman of the Railway Employees Union, said the employees had not been fazed by Wednesday's incident.
"They are still coming to work. They won't take leave because of such a small issue," Kwok said, adding that the pair tried their best to help.
Unions were also concerned about an earlier apology by MTR operations director Dr Jacob Kam Chak-pui. They questioned whether he was sorry about the death of the dog or the actions of staff - a matter he should not comment on when the matter was still under investigation.
An MTR spokesman said the company understood the stress staff were under. A taskforce would look into the incident and come up with guidelines for staff in future cases. Animal welfare groups had been approached to offer staff training, the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, about 100 people protested outside government headquarters in Tamar, Admiralty, against the handling of the dog incident.