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Hong Kong MTR

Hong Kong’s MTR says it has no plans at present to install Chinese firm Nufront’s high definition surveillance systems

Real time, high definition surveillance system used in Guangzhou metro not being considered for Hong Kong at present, says subway operator

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 January, 2018, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 January, 2018, 10:06pm

Hong Kong’s MTR Corp said it is not working with mainland Chinese company Nufront to install high-resolution surveillance systems on trains running on the metro lines, after the network supplier suggested the city’s mass transit railway operator planned to install such technology on its Disneyland Resort Line this year.

“The company mentioned in the report is not undertaking any MTR projects at present, and the MTR has no plan at present to introduce the company’s CCTV system,” MTR said in an email reply on Wednesday night, without clarifying if it was testing the high-speed network capability needed for high-resolution surveillance cameras inside compartments.

MTR’s response comes after an executive of Nufront, a Guangzhou-based technology company, indicated last week that Hong Kong’s railway operator was already in talks and has tested the real time 4K surveillance system installed on a newly built metro line in Guangzhou.

Chen Fenghua, a Nufront’s general manager, said the Hong Kong MTR was expected to install similar 4K surveillance cameras on its Disneyland Resort Line in 2018, initially on a trial basis, before expanding it to more lines.

Chinese metro’s Ultra HD cameras screen passengers’ every move

MTR’s plan to adopt the surveillance system was designed to improve passenger security, similar to metro operators in mainland China which utilise real-time surveillance to combat potential terrorism and illegal activities, according to Chen.

Nufront’s system enables the 30 high-resolution cameras equipped on the metro train in Guangzhou to transmit every move inside the compartments to the control room in high definition images, without any transmission delays.

The 4K surveillance system is able to record high-resolution images of subtle facial expressions of the passengers, so it could be used with facial recognition software to help public security agencies on the Chinese mainland apprehend criminals, according to Nufront.

In February 2017, a man set off a firebomb on a crowded Hong Kong MTR train during the rush hour, injuring at least 18 people and spreading panic among commuters.

After the incident, MTR operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing admitted that CCTV cameras were not installed on the train involved, or on trains that came into service before 2004.

“New batches of CCTV-equipped trains would arrive and be ready for service in 2018 at the earliest,” Lau told the reporters at the time.

According to an MTR press statement dated December 21, 2017, the company held a ceremony in Qingdao, China on the same day to mark the completion of testing of the first 8-car train of the 93 new trains procured by the MTR to replace existing trains operating on the Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, Island and Tseung Kwan O lines.

“These trains are equipped with advanced operating systems and a number of new features in the passenger compartments including improved lighting systems, new dynamic route maps and double branched handrails. They are also compatible with the new signalling system which is being installed on Hong Kong’s urban rail lines,” according to the statement, which did not mention CCTV surveillance.

About half of Hong Kong MTR trains have no CCTV; calls for safety rethink after firebomb attack

MTR said the first new train is expected to be delivered to Hong Kong in early 2018 while the remaining trains will arrive in batches between 2018 and 2023.

Hong Kong lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, chairman of the Legislative Council’s transport panel, had urged the MTR to install CCTV cameras on all trains and review its surveillance systems immediately after the firebomb incident last year. That way, MTR staff would have known what happened immediately and fire extinguishers could be ready before the train arrived at the platform, according to Tien.

About 5.6 million passenger trips are made on the MTR on a normal weekday in Hong Kong.