26th September 2013
Potential Safety Hazard in MTR’s South Island Line
MTR Continues to Buy More China Made Trains Despite the Risk
The safety standard and quality of the China made trains purchased by MTR is being questioned. However, despite the criticism, MTR secretly went to purchase more China made trains. Currently MTR owns 32 China made trains: 22 of them will service the existing railway system, whilst the remaining 10 will be used in the South Island Line.
In 2008, MTR announced that is has purchased 10 China made trains the first time. After the first train purchased was shipped to Hong Kong in late 2011, there were MTR inspectors complaining about the multiple defects on the train, a source said “the senior management was furious, and demanded the manufacturer to send someone from Chang Chun (where the manufacturer is based) to Kwoloon Bay depot to fix the train.” During its trial run in November 2011, it was reported that the train ran through a red light under auto-drive mode. In December 2011, three days after it began operation, malfunction was reported and the train had to stop servicing. Soon after, there were a number of reports about the problems of the train, including: leakage in the train compartments, difficult to make sure that the train doors open in tandem as the platform screen doors and the handrails inside the train came off. After putting the China made trains in operation for around six months, MTR’s internal review documents said that there are many problems with these trains and serious incidents, for example sudden power failure, were recorded.
The MTR documents revealed that one carriage of a train that was about to turnaround at Tiu Keng Leng station had a sudden power failure, but the emergency lights were out, it was pitch dark in the carriage. Luckily there was no passenger in the carriage, otherwise passengers could get into a panic. The train was immediately sent back for maintenance, and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) was very concern about the incident.
MTR does not seem to want to discuss about the China made trains. Besides the 10 trains ordered from Chang Chun Railway Vehicles, MTR only announced the purchase of 14 China made trains, including 10 that will be used in the South Island Line. The fact is, however, MTR has already purchased a total of 32 China made trains.
Some MTR employees, who asked to remain anonymous, said that China made trains are not only expensive but also requires substantial “fixing”. The quality of China made trains, according to them, is way lower than those made in Korea and Spain. These MTR staff questioned if there are political agendas behind these purchases. A MTR spokesperson responded that any newly purchased trains must go through a series of safety and service performance tests, and receive approval by the EMSD, before being put into service. The spokesperson said that the performance of these new trains is in line with other trains when they were first put into service.