Hong Kong MTR

MTR sinking issues a ‘subsidence on public confidence’, Hong Kong district councillor says

DAB’s Terry Yip slams rail operator for hiding details of problems at six light rail stations in Tuen Mun

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 9:05pm

A pro-establishment Tuen Mun district councillor has lashed out at Hong Kong’s embattled rail operator for hiding details of sinking ground surfaces at six light rail stations in the area, calling it a “subsidence on public confidence”.

Of the 64 sites that the MTR Corporation recently revealed were being monitored for sinking issues, six of the eight light rail stops were in Tuen Mun. Tuen Mun Swimming Pool light rail stop fared the worst, with 17mm of subsidence detected – only 3mm below the statutory limit.

On Monday, at a special meeting attended by representatives from MTR Corp and government departments, district councillor Terry Yip Man-pan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) said that a wheelchair user had been unable to board due to the height difference between the platform and the train floor.

Terry Wong Wing-kin, MTR Corp’s general manager for infrastructure maintenance, said the increase in subsidence levels at the six light rail stops in Tuen Mun was very gradual, with “only rises in single digits”.

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“We have been closely monitoring the construction projects along the railway protection route … Also, we have to reiterate that the limit is set to halt the construction so that professionals can review and think of measures to reduce the subsidence. It doesn’t mean that there is a safety hazard with the building’s structure,” Wong said.

He added that 17mm was the highest level detected at the swimming pool site, not an average of the measurements taken at different spots.

“There isn’t much change in the subsidence level at the Tuen Mun Swimming Pool station,” he said. “It’s still below the 20mm limit where construction needs to be halted.”

MTR Corp admitted last week that 64 stations were being monitored for subsidence. Construction work near Tai Wai station, Tin Wing light rail stop and the West Rail line’s Yuen Long station has been suspended.

Local media revealed separately that along the scandal-plagued Sha Tin-Central rail link project, ground subsidence problems had also occurred at To Kwa Wan station, while the government on Friday ordered the rail operator to stop excavation work at the Exhibition Centre station because areas around the site had sunk beyond an acceptable level.

At the meeting, Tuen Mun district councillors urged the rail operator to set up a transparent notification mechanism. District council member Mo Shing-fung, also from the DAB, recommended a four-level warning system to alert citizens.

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Yip said that a clear and simple notification mechanism could work similarly to the city’s typhoon warnings, which use a simple numbering system to denote the severity of the storm.

“Citizens might not understand the wind speed of a storm, but they know how powerful it is according to level systems. Even when the limit is set at 20mm, citizens don’t know what 17mm of subsidence means,” he said.

An MTR Corp spokeswoman said the company would cooperate with the government through a recently announced new monitoring protocol and strengthen communication with the district council when needed.