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Hong Kong MTR

‘Rare and serious’ 50cm-long crack found on Hong Kong light rail track, causing MTR to divert trains

MTR carries out temporary restoration work that allowed service to resume, but operator plans thorough review of what went wrong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2018, 5:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 September, 2018, 10:14am

In a rare glitch prompting Hong Kong’s light rail trains in Tuen Mun to switch routes, a long crack was found on a track near the Goodview Garden station, stoking infrastructure fears, the Post has learned.

The 50cm-long crack was discovered before noon on Thursday as a light rail train proceeded to the Goodview Garden stop in Tuen Mun, according to an MTR Corporation source. An engineer spotted the long crack near the stop’s track.

The crack was immediately reported to MTR’s operations control centre, which quickly decided that all trains passing the Goodview Garden stop – 614,614P and 507 – needed to divert to a longer route via the Sam Shing stop. The re-routing means travel to Goodview Garden is three to four minutes longer than usual.

“The crack is very long, about 50cm long, which is rare and serious,” the source said. “The MTR Corp has dispatched some engineers to inspect the track and see if they can remedy it.”

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An MTR spokeswoman confirmed a horizontal crack had been found at a rail section between Goodview Garden and Siu Lun. But she was unable initially to say how long the crack was.

“All we can say is that the track is still connected, not broken into two,” she said. “We’ve arranged staff to repair the track and they are still working on it.”

The spokeswoman later added that, after temporary restoration work was carried out, service on that section of the track resumed at about 4.30pm.

“After light rail service closes tonight, our maintenance staff will conduct a thorough check at the track and do follow-up measures,” she said.

Hong Kong Federation of Railway Trade Unions vice-chairman Tam Kin-chiu believed the crack had been serious because immediate re-routing was enforced.

“If the crack had not been serious, after inspection the MTR Corp would have instructed light rail drivers to run at a slow speed,” Tam said. “But if they’re required to switch routes immediately it means the crack is serious and not fit for trains to safely pass.”

The union official voiced concerns about whether the long crack had something to do with the soil’s geological conditions.

“If this is natural wear and tear, it won’t cause a crack, let alone a long one,” Tam added. “If this has something to do with the geologic conditions of the soil or other external factors, then the MTR Corp needs to assess whether replacing with a new track could resolve the problems or whether there is a need to re-route and skip this rail section once and for all.”