Railway officials discuss landslide

TOP officials from the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) and the Guangzhou Railway Corporation (GRC) met yesterday in a hastily arranged session to discuss the landslide which left thousands stranded last week.

Communications between the two companies drew fierce criticism from passengers when it was revealed the KCRC had found out about the landslide 11 hours after it happened.

By that time two trains carrying 1,800 passengers had left Hunghom station and crossed the border.

The KCRC's delegation yesterday to GRC headquarters in Guangzhou included the acting head of operations, Anthony Yan Siu-cheung, and corporate affairs general manager Barry Choi Kui-keung. They were to meet key operations staff from the GRC.

''The objective is to strengthen communications,'' said a KCRC spokesman. ''We need to know how soon they [GRC] estimate the service can resume after an incident like this.'' The landslide on Monday last week happened when a new cutting for a third railway track collapsed after rain. However, the spokesman said preventing landslides was not part of yesterday's talks.

According to reports, the cutting and many similar ones carved through the mountainous terrain are bare earth with no retaining walls, unlike in Hong Kong where the KCRC ''shotcretes'' steep slopes with concrete. The KCRC also checks ''blackspots'' afterevery heavy rainfall.

But it would not be seeking assurances from the GRC that cuttings on the Chinese section would be concreted or maintained. ''We are responsible for the 34 kilometres of track within Hong Kong. The GRC are responsible for their tracks and we are not in a position to ask them for any assurance,'' the spokesman said.