Management woes at Hong Kong’s train operator have become so evident in recent years that there is no need for another probe to show the scale of the problem. Yet a review in the wake of a major signalling blunder has exposed wider systemic issues at the Mass Transit Railway Corp. The government should speed up the creation of a new department supervising railway development. The damning report by the MTR’s investigation panel gives a sense of déjà vu, not just because of a lapse of judgment over the severity of a glitch found during a system upgrade, but also failures to alert higher levels of management for a solution. The switch-over to shorter trains at the East Rail Line in September was only halted by the government at the last minute when a signal malfunction might have caused a train to head to a wrong station. The new system was finally put into use on Saturday. MTR Corp could face government sanctions over rail signalling error The debacle will further delay the commissioning of the HK$90.7 billion Sha Tin-Central project , the city’s most costly rail link. But it also underlines a wider problem with the MTR’s corporate culture. This is not the first time that the firm has been criticised for failing to report major setbacks to the highest levels of management, thereby preventing timely follow-up and remedial actions. The report said there was no intentional cover-up, but the recurrence of misjudgment and inaction does little for its reputation as a world-class railway operator. The findings should give the government another push to create a railways department and supervisory body. At present, the government has senior officials sitting on the MTR board. Separately, the Highways Department and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department are overseeing railway development projects by the MTR. But the repeated construction woes and delays show tighter supervision is needed. The government believes a new department would make monitoring more focused, but it would not be established until 2023, having regard to the government’s current financial situation and policy priorities. Given the importance of railway safety and reliability, the new department must be established as a matter of priority.