image image

Hong Kong high-speed rail

Photos show more water seepage on Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link but MTR insists line will open in September

Civic Party lawmakers Jeremy Tam and Tanya Chan reveal more than 30 photos and six video clips, taken in the past week, that show seepage issues at five points along the line, including the West Kowloon terminus

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2018, 10:54pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 August, 2018, 11:51am

Hong Kong’s troubled rail operator has said a cross-border high-speed link will open in September as planned, despite new photos emerging that suggest water leaks continue to dog the line.

The MTR Corporation on Thursday dismissed concerns over seepage on the HK$84.4-billion Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link as the government certified the line safe following a series of trial runs.

However, Civic Party lawmakers Jeremy Tam Man-ho and Tanya Chan showed more than 30 photographs and six video clips indicating seepage issues persisted at five points along the line – the West Kowloon terminus; Shek Kong Stabling Sidings; and tunnels on the Nam Cheong, Mai Po and Shing Mun sections.

It was revealed in May that a signalling system had been affected by underground water leaks, part of a series of problems that also included a train car derailing in April and the discovery that wheels were wearing away more quickly than expected.

Tam said that the new footage had been taken in the past week, but refused to name the sources.

Some photos showed water accumulating under electronic equipment and “stalactite” mineral build-up on pipes at the West Kowloon terminus, while a number of others showed water on the floor near the platforms and rooms for electrical and mechanical equipment.

One video showed a person removing a layer of milky-white build-up in a tunnel near Shing Mun, a steady stream of water flowing in and rusted tracks.

Tam questioned whether the MTR Corp had underestimated the amount of groundwater before building the facilities, noting that the cost to maintain the project could be enormous. Chan doubted whether the rail giant had installed adequate waterproofing measures.

Simon Tang, MTR’s general manager of the express rail project, insisted that the seepage problems were minor and that most had been resolved.

“I haven’t seen the videos or photos nor do I know when and where they were taken and by whom so I have no comment,” Tang said. “But at this stage we have not seen any serious leaks.

“If obvious dripping is found, our staff will conduct remedial work, such as grouting, until the situation improves.”

Tang said he would order staff to identify and check the locations in the leaked material.

“We will not take any allegations lightly … But we are confident the West Kowloon terminus has no structural problems,” he said.

Speaking in Beijing on Thursday, Hong Kong’s transport chief Frank Chan Fan said that seepage problems at the West Kowloon terminus and connecting tunnels had been contained.

At a media test ride on Thursday, MTR officials showed their own photos of a tunnel connected to the terminus, taken on Sunday, that had water marks on some locations. The company admitted seepage problems were unavoidable for the underground rail link.

During an 18-minute ride on the link, a Post reporter observed that the rail environment and facilities were mostly dry but that there were some water marks near the West Kowloon terminus tunnel.

Two public open days will be held on September 1 and 2, with a total of 20,000 free tickets to be distributed on August 25.

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department confirmed that the 26km express rail link met all the required standards after various departments conducted a final assessment.

“The corporation is entering the final stage of preparation for the opening and launch,” said MTR’s CEO Lincoln Leong.

MTR’s chief of operating Francis Li Shing-kee advised passengers to arrive 45 minutes ahead of the train to reserve more time for customs checks as it was hard to predict how long the process will take.