Emergency 'refuge areas' at deepest MTR stop
Safety procedures highlighted at HKU station, 70-metres below ground, on west Island line
Passengers in the MTR's biggest and deepest underground station will evacuate to "refuge areas" in case of fire, the corporation said yesterday as it insisted facilities on its new West Island Line were safe.
Hong Kong University station, the biggest in the MTR network at 250 metres long and 22 metres wide, is 70 metres below ground and like Sai Ying Pun station, of a similar depth at 50 metres, has several entrances served only by lifts.
In a media tour of the station yesterday, the MTR said the A1, A2 and C1 exits each had four lifts to take passengers to the University of Hong Kong and Pok Fu Lam Road.
The company's head of operations, Francis Li Shing-kee, said each lift could carry up to 28 passengers to the surface in less than 30 seconds and would also be used for evacuation in case of fire.
He said passengers would be directed to "refuge areas" to take the lifts, one level above the concourse, in case of emergency.
"The passengers are pretty much safe once they enter the refuge area, because the area is covered with fire systems like sprinklers and it is pressurised," Li said, adding that passengers could either choose to take the lifts to the ground or use an emergency stairway.
Fire curtains will also drop down automatically to cover the lifts' doors to stop the spread of smoke and the lifts have two independent power supplies to enhance their reliability, the MTR said. There are also designated refuge points for disabled people.
Li said the shelter design and use of lifts for evacuation were the first of their kind in the MTR's network, and that they had met all the government's safety requirements.
Drills were also carried out to familiarise staff with the emergency procedures.
Asked if the 12 lifts at the station could handle the increase of passengers in the future, Li said there was ample capacity to take care of unexpected growth.
The MTR is expected to announce the exact opening date for the 3km West Island Line connecting Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town early next month. But Sai Ying Pun Station will not be opened until March next year.