Crack squad of heavily armed anti-terror policemen to cover Hong Kong’s rail network from Sunday
- Wielding semi-automatic pistols and submachine guns, the Railway Response Team will also provide emergency reaction to major incidents, district commander says
Hong Kong’s first railway terrorism response team is set to cover all 93 of the city’s MTR stations from Sunday, police have revealed.
The newly established Railway Response Team (RRT), comprising 34 heavily armed officers, is under the command of the Police Railway District.
Leung Chung-man, the district’s commander, said on Friday the group would do two shifts a day on duty, while a team of four officers would patrol all stations during railway operation hours.
Officers, who did six weeks of special training, would patrol station concourses, platforms and carriages, Leung added. He said there would be more frequent patrols at higher-risk and major interchange stations on urban lines, such as Kowloon Tong, Central and Admiralty.
“There is a heightened anti-terrorist situation worldwide. In particular there were terrorist attacks against railway systems in different parts of the world,” Chan said, adding that apart from responding to any terror attacks in stations, the team would provide immediate tactical response to all major incidents on railways.
“Hong Kong police must stay vigilant and step up preventive measures,” he said.
But he stressed there was no evidence Hong Kong was being specifically targeted for attack, and that the terrorism threat level remained “moderate”.
Patrol officers will carry gear weighing 20lbs, including a semi-automatic Glock 17 pistol on their waist and a submachine gun –the SIG-Sauer MPX – in a backpack.
When on operations, officers will have to wear a tactical jumpsuit, a bulletproof helmet and night-vision googles for working in dark railway tunnels. The full outfit weighs 35lbs.
Each team will also have gas masks, bulletproof vests, and nuclear, biological and chemical protection suits.
Leung said the response time to any incident would be nine minutes.
“Officers from other police units that are patrolling MTR stations will maintain their service on top of the newly established team. In case of emergency, all teams will cooperate and work together,” Leung added.
Currently, officers from the railway district, emergency units, and the Counter Terrorism Response Unit (CTRU) also patrol, and respond to incidents in, stations.
Most of the RRT officers previously worked in prime operational units, including the Airport Security Unit and the CTRU, which are also intended to respond to terrorist situations.
In the financial year 2018-19, the government gave the Security Bureau a one-off HK$265 million cash injection, to boost the city’s counterterrorism capabilities and preparedness. Part of the money was used to set up the RRT, as well as an interdepartmental unit for counterterror.