Hong Kong MTR

As the MTR expands, it must maintain its service quality

With new lines coming into operation, rail giant will face greater pressure to keep its reputation as a safe and reliable transport system

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2016, 5:40am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2016, 5:40am

As the city’s major public transport operator, the Mass Transit Railway has a mission to provide safe, reliable and convenient service to the public. While the system remains largely safe and reliable, its performance has come under closer scrutiny recently in the wake of more frequent service breakdowns. The challenge is even bigger as the MTR network continues to expand.

Based on the experience of the past two days, the operation of the Kwun Tong extension line has by and large been smooth. But the feedback from residents and passengers suggests a lot more needs to be done to enhance connectivity. For instance, the location of Ho Man Tin station is closer to some luxurious residential blocks than two public housing estates in the neighbourhood.

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Some elderly tenants complained that it was too difficult for them to walk up to the station, which is perched on top of a hill. Passenger flow during peak hours is also an issue, as there are only a few lifts connecting the platforms to the entrance. Whampoa station drew relatively fewer criticisms. But with the terminus split into two unconnected concourses, it may cause confusion.

The 2.6km extension is part of an ambitious plan to improve the city’s connectivity using rail lines. But the extension was delayed by more than a year due to engineering difficulties and other factors. The hiccups experienced over the past two days may well be teething problems. But with many more passengers riding the trains, the expansion inevitably adds to pressure on the system. At least two other rail projects, the Sha Tin to Central link and the South Island line, are in the pipeline. Whether the MTR can maintain its efficient service will continue to be an issue of public concern.

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There are good reasons why the railway giant is recognised as one of the world’s leading transport operators. Compared to some networks overseas, our system is second to none in terms of cost efficiency, safety and reliability. It is important that the MTR keep up its service quality.