'We've been travelling home from midnight till dawn'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2012, 12:00am


Some Hongkongers get annoyed waiting more than a couple of minutes for a train. So imagine having to wait all night.

That was the scene overnight Monday for hundreds of commuters - including this reporter - trying to get home from Kowloon Tong Station in the middle of a storm that was upgraded to a severe typhoon.

At 11.30pm, the platform was crowded with passengers waiting for a Sheung Shui-bound train. We were all wringing wet.

Then came the first announcement - power lines were down at Tai Po Station, and the train service would be delayed. We waited another hour before a train arrived. It took us to Tai Wai Station - and that's where the real ordeal began.

A railway worker appeared, walking through each carriage, saying: 'The typhoon 10 signal is hoisted, and the train won't go any further. Please leave the train.' The passengers' resigned silence quickly ended in an angry wave of complaints.

'It's totally insane. If I died outside, would you be responsible for that?' one yelled. The railway worker could only look at the ground, making no response.

In the station lobby, crowds of angry passengers surrounded a railway officer, demanding an explanation and emergency transport such as shuttle buses. He kept repeating, 'I am sorry for the inconvenience caused. You can keep scolding me. I'm sorry.'

That unhelpful response touched off more angry accusations from the crowd. But then people settled down, many falling asleep on the bare floor or sitting on the staircases.

At about 4.30am, some of us entered a dark, silent train.

One woman said: 'I'll never forget this night. We caught the last train last night, and the first train today. We've been travelling home from midnight until dawn.'

Two dismal hours later, packed with unhappy, sleepy and sodden riders, the train began rolling. Only to stop again at Fo Tan. An hour later, around 7.30am, it rumbled into motion once more, taking us to our journey's end.