Hong Kong MTR

Hong Kong high-speed rail link hit by another setback as water leaks into signalling system

MTR Corporation admits it is unable to fully prevent failure that caused problem in Mai Po tunnel

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 5:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 10:59pm

The trial run of Hong Kong’s HK$84.4 billion cross-border high-speed rail link has run into its second glitch in less than two months.

A section of its signalling system was affected by underground water leaks, something rail operator MTR Corporation admitted was partly beyond their control.

The fault near Mai Po in the New Territories, which happened last Friday, followed the derailing of a train car three days after the link’s trial run started on April 1. An initial investigation showed that the problem was caused by a track malfunction.

The latest incident happened at about 10am on Friday, when the signalling system showed “signs of instability”, the MTR Corp said on Tuesday.

According to a statement released by the corporation, staff immediately stopped the trial run on that section of track, and deployed maintenance staff to check the system.

“The maintenance staff noticed there were water marks on the ground near the rail section and they believed those were caused by underground water,” the statement said. “After thorough examination … they believed the signalling system became unstable by the moisture effect.”

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The company said that since the track and all other facilities, such as the tunnel’s water pumps, were working normally, express trains could run slowly across that section, and by 11.15am they started to resume the trial run.

“Our engineer team examined the relevant rail section and confirmed that the incident did not affect any structural safety of the tunnel nor did it cause any safety issues,” the MTR Corp statement said.

However, the corporation said they could not fully prevent the problems of underground water seepage occurring in the future.

“For all underground facilities such as rail stations or tunnels, they are all installed with waterproof membrane or water drainage systems to prevent underground water running in,” it said.

“But for very deep underground tunnels, technically they can’t be 100 per cent waterproof. It is still possible for underground water to leak out from the tunnel walls through the stone layers.”

The rail operator said it would closely monitor the seepage situation at the relevant section of track, and would conduct remedial measures if needed.

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The Highways Department said it had already received a report of the incident, on Friday.

“The department has requested the MTR Corp conduct a detailed investigation into the matter and implement remedial measures,” it said.

In August 2015, the MTR halted construction of a section of track after failing to contain land subsidence of a fish pond at the Mai Po marshes, near Yuen Long. The event raised concerns from environmental groups over the ecological damage the project had caused.

The rail link is expected to be opened in September after a bill for the controversial joint checkpoint facility at its West Kowloon terminus is passed in the Legislative Council this summer.