Hong Kong’s high-speed rail link passes test after Typhoon Mangkhut rips city
Cross-border link terminus, which housed a war room during monster storm, will open as planned with a launch ceremony a day before trains run
Hong Kong’s much awaited high-speed rail to Guangzhou will debut on schedule after the set-up of a 24-hour war room helped it survive the city’s strongest typhoon on record.
The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will launch on September 23, with an opening ceremony a day before.
A source familiar with the situation said minor leaks occurred at the link’s West Kowloon terminus on Sunday as typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the city and caused high rises to sway while windows fell from buildings.
The source said the terminus was overall “dry and fine”, and some 4,000 tempered glass panels on its roof were intact.
The MTR Corporation had set up a control centre at the site, with a special team consisting mostly of about 20 department heads to monitor the situation as Hong Kong hunkered down for the monster storm.
Personnel in the war room were responsible for drawing up contingency plans and deploying staff to cope with emergencies, disruptions or damage wrought by Mangkhut.
A spokesman for the corporation, which built and will operate the HK$84.4 billion (US$10.8 billion) Hong Kong section of the rail link, said on Monday it was pressing ahead with the launch ceremony and the start of services.
“It weathered the test, which is better than expected,” the source said of how the terminus fared in the storm. “Overall, the station and depot at Pat Heung are in good condition.”
The 26km Hong Kong section of the rail link, mostly underground, has so far survived two super typhoons, with the other being Hato last year, the source added.
On Monday, Hong Kong was largely left paralysed in the aftermath of Mangkhut.
There were 1,500 reports of fallen trees – double the number caused by Hato – with rail tracks and roads blocked and traffic disrupted. Authorities recorded 500 reports of broken windows, triple that from Hato.
During rainstorms last month, the high-speed rail depot was inundated while bad leaks were reported in the rooftop of the West Kowloon terminus.
Passengers who bought tickets online, through the hotline and on state-owned China Railway Corporation’s 12306 website or app, can redeem tickers at the terminus.
The building will be closed between September 20 and 22 to prepare for the launch ceremony.