MTR Corp faces need to dismantle entire platform at scandal-hit Hung Hom station after six more faulty steel bars found
- Substandard rate of 22 of 52 bars found faulty so far is 42 per cent, with lawmaker saying it has crossed limit
- Latest findings bring number of faulty steel bars to 23 out of 60 checked
Hong Kong’s embattled rail operator is facing the need of having to dismantle at least one entire platform at its scandal-hit Hung Hom station after another six steel bars were found to be badly installed, further increasing substandard rates.
On Wednesday the Highways Department released its findings on the east-west platform for the Tai Wai-Hung Hom line of the link. The reinforcement bars were among 11 checked by the MTR Corporation in an ongoing probe into shoddy work on the city’s costliest rail project, the Sha Tin-Central Link.
The latest results brought the number of faulty steel bars detected to 23, out of 60 checked, with an overall substandard rate of 38 per cent. For the east-west platform alone, 22 of 52 bars were found to be defective so far – a substandard rate of 42 per cent.
Lawmaker and former rail boss Michael Tien Puk-sun said if the eventual failure rate for one platform exceeded 40 per cent, it was inevitable that it would have to be dismantled. “The latest findings are very serious,” he added.
The six faulty bars were found to be embedded into couplers at a depth of 32.59mm to 36.8mm. According to the supplier, 40mm of each bar should be screwed into its coupler, and anything less than 37mm is substandard, taking into account a 3mm error.
One bar, embedded only 33.98mm into its coupler but without any exposed thread, showed signs of being shortened.
The MTR Corp is in the process of breaking open at least 80 sections of two new platforms at the station for the HK$97.1 billion (US$12.4 billion) link, to determine if structural safety has been compromised. At least 168 connections will be exposed for inspection.
A final assessment is expected to be delivered by mid-March.
Tien said: “If the final failure rate for one platform exceeds 40 per cent, it is very difficult for the government to convince the public that consolidation work will suffice to address safety problems.
“It is also hard for the construction sector to take the safety standards seriously if a project with a failure rate of 40 per cent could still be acceptable to the government, and escape being completely torn down.”
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan admitted on Tuesday there had been suspicions of illegal activities involved in the construction of the station platforms, but he said at this stage it was still too early to make any conclusions.
“We need to wait for the final analysis by experts to identify if structural safety standards were met and if any remedial or consolidation works for the site are needed. During the opening-up process, police joined the investigation as there have been suspected cases of illegal behaviour,” he said.
“However, before we have any concrete evidence ... at this stage it is improper for us to say too much on the findings.”