Hong Kong MTR

MTR apologises for recent Hong Kong service delays and promises to invest in system maintenance

CEO insists its network is still “world class”, and has operated on schedule 99.9 per cent of the time

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 August, 2017, 9:13pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 August, 2017, 10:57pm

Hong Kong rail giant MTR Corporation has apologised to commuters again for the recent spate of service delays, and promised to spend “significantly” more on system maintenance.

But CEO Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen maintained that its network was still “world class” and had been running as scheduled for 99.9 per cent of the time.

Leong’s comments on Thursday came as he reported the company’s interim results for the first half of the year. MTR Corp, of which the government is a major shareholder, recorded a recurring profit of HK$4.48 billion, down 8 per cent from the same period last year.

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The rail operator has been hit by a series of service delays recently.

On August 5, train service on the Kwun Tong Line was disrupted for more than 10 hours after a signalling problem. Trains only ran every five minutes despite emergency repairs, compared with the usual 3.75 minutes for weekends.

On Tuesday, another signalling problem hit the line during the evening rush, delaying service for an hour. It was the sixth major service disruption in two weeks.

“We do understand public concern over recent incidents of service delay, and I apologise to the affected passengers for the inconvenience,” Leong said.

“We will continue to invest significant amount of resources on maintenance and asset replacement to ensure our railway system remains in good condition.”

The amount of resources we will be putting into [system upgrades and maintenance] will be significantly increased
MTR CEO Lincoln Leong

In 2016, some HK$8 billion was spent on replacing and upgrading the system, according to MTR Corp.

“In fact, over the next few years, the amount of resources we will be putting into [system upgrades and maintenance] will be significantly increased from current levels,” Leong said without specifying any figures.

MTR had formed an internal inquiry panel to look into the August 5 incident.

Panel head Jacob Kam Chak-pui, MTR Corp’s managing director in charge of operations and mainland business, however argued that the disruption was not particularly serious, since the waiting time between trains was just five minutes.

Kam said it should not have caused too much trouble to commuters.

MTR Corp is also upgrading signalling systems for seven of its rail lines at a cost of HK$3.3 billion. Works will be completed in phases, starting from 2018 until 2026.

The seven lines are Tsuen Wan, Island, Kwun Tong, Tseung Kwan O, Disneyland Resort, Tung Chung, as well as the Airport Express, with the Tsuen Wan Line the first to use the upgraded system.

Upon completion of the works, the capacity of the lines will be raised by about 10 per cent, according to the rail operator.