Hong Kong commuters are facing more confusion, delays and long waits on crowded platforms on Tuesday, with the city’s railway operator unlikely to restore services that were knocked out between two major stations by an unprecedented train crash on Monday morning. The MTR Corporation blamed the first collision in its 40-year history on a signalling software failure as it warned passengers taking the Tsuen Wan line from the Kowloon side to Hong Kong Island that upon arriving at Admiralty station they would either have to walk down to a lower level to change platforms or find alternative modes of transport to continue their journey to Central station. Services between the two busy stations were suspended for all of Monday after the collision between a Central-bound train and another train heading for Tsuen Wan at around 3am at a crossover junction. There were no passengers on board the two trains during the trial run for the MTR’s new signalling system, but a 31-year-old driver suffered minor leg injuries. MTR operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing said around 120 staff had been deployed for repair work at Central station. “But they need to wait until after midnight before they can remove the two damaged trains from the station tracks to another siding area. They only have two to three hours to carry out this work,” he said. “Also, we need some time to repair the damaged tracks and the related facilities. We may not be able to resume service between the Central and Admiralty stations for the Tsuen Wan line [on Tuesday].” What we know about SelTrac, the signal system blamed for MTR crash The service breakdown hit tens of thousands of commuters during both the morning and evening rush hours. Among them were a couple from the mainland Chinese city of Nanjing, who complained about unclear instructions in the morning. “We were told that no trains would take us to Central, but the announcement says we just have to switch to another train. So which one is it?” the wife said. It was more of the same in the evening, with passengers complaining about the inconvenience in having to make the additional switch between the Tsuen Wan and Island lines. “And yet the MTR increases fares every year,” one man grumbled. A commuter in Central who normally takes the Island Line towards Chai Wan said she only managed to board the third train that arrived. “I can usually just squeeze into the train that comes, but there seems to be a third more people on this platform than usual,” she said. Crash-hit MTR suffers second setback as woman falls on tracks Bus companies rolled out extra services on 11 cross-harbour routes to cope with the extra passenger demand, and planned to deploy about 80 additional buses, according to the Transport Department. Photos of the wrecked trains released earlier by the MTR Corp showed badly damaged compartments with several doors unhinged and shattered glass strewn across the floor. One train was seen tilting on its side, having completely jumped the tracks. MTR Corp managing director Jacob Kam Chak-pui said initial investigations suggested the crash was caused by a software flaw in the new signalling system, which had been undergoing testing for more than a year. The software for the HK$3.3 billion (US$423 million) system was supplied by French multinational Thales. Kam said the system had failed when railway staff were switching to a second backup computer. The current system that will be replaced has only one backup. He explained that the two trains were assigned the same route because of the error, resulting in their passing through the same crossing simultaneously. “This scenario, in terms of safety, is unacceptable,” Kam said. MTR likely to delay introduction of new signalling system after crash Thales had identified the same issue through a computer simulation in its Toronto laboratory, he added. “It confirms that their software was problematic,” Kam said, noting that Thales would send four or five experts to Hong Kong soon to follow up. The investigation was complicated and could take two to three months, he said. All trials of the new signalling system would be suspended for now. Thales released a statement on Monday evening saying it was “deeply sorry” that a driver had been hurt in the accident, and that it would support the ongoing investigation. “We fully remain at the disposal of [the MTR Corp] and the authorities to bring the appropriate assistance and information,” it said. MTR operating chief Alan Cheng Kwan-hing said the two trains had dealt glancing blows to each other, rather than crashing head-on. “It was not a head-on collision,” he said. “Our initial findings showed the trains sideswiped each other when they were travelling towards each other at the crossover junction … I’ve never come across this kind of incident on the MTR.” Central-Admiralty MTR suspension ‘may last into Tuesday’ after train crash Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services Alfred Sit Wing-hang said the government was concerned about the incident and would conduct an independent investigation. “We will run a careful, in-depth and complete investigation to ensure the new signal system is operating in a safe and reliable manner before it is implemented,” he said. Sit said the government would check the repairs on the Tsuen Wan line section of Central station, including rail damage, before services could be resumed. He said the government would also ask the corporation to submit a report. Lawmaker Michael Luk Chung-hung, vice-chairman of Legislative Council’s railways subcommittee, called on the MTR Corp to thoroughly investigate the incident. “The MTR Corp needs to make compensation claims against this contractor,” he said. The accident is another damaging blow to the MTR Corp’s reputation, which has taken a beating over the past year because of a series of constructions scandals that have prompted a top-level management reshuffle.