Hong Kong’s rail operator has vowed its first batch of shorter trains and a new signalling system for the East Rail line will be able to cope with passenger demand when rolled out early next month.
The upgrade, which will introduce trains with nine carriages instead of the current 12, is needed to ensure the line conforms to platform designs for its Sha Tin to Central link – the city’s costliest rail project – when it becomes fully operational in 2022.
The first phase of the change would bring six of the shorter trains into service on September 12 with another 31 to follow within 18 months, the MTR Corporation said on Friday.
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Operations chief Sammy Wong Kwan-wai said the line could handle passenger volume despite using shorter trains.
“We’ll monitor the passenger flow, and if necessary, we’ll adjust the frequency of train service or arrange special trains to meet the demand,” Wong said. “Passengers might need time to get used to the new boarding arrangement, so we have measures to assist passengers. As teething problems and minor adjustments are expected in the initial stage, we appeal to passengers’ understanding and patience.”
Leung Chi-lap, head of electrical and mechanical construction, said the new trains had completed all necessary testing and were proven safe. “They are ready for passenger service in terms of safety and reliability,” Leung said.
A trial run of the signalling system on the East Rail line during off-hours in May ran into problems. The automatic train supervision system experienced a blackout, the line’s interlocking system shut down
and a test train ran past a red signal.
In a report submitted to the government this month, the rail giant said the incidents were all caused by human or procedural errors, and noted no one was injured or facilities damaged.
“We have already enhanced staff training and conducted new tests on the signalling system,” Leung said. “It has no safety problems at all.”
Builders on Sha Tin-Central link did cut corners but public safety never threatened, says commission of inquiry
The Sha Tin to Central link, budgeted at HK$90.7 billion (US$11.7 billion), has suffered repeated delays and cost overruns. The first part of the rail link, known as Tuen Ma line phase 1 and connecting Wu Kai Sha to Kai Tak through Tai Wai, Hin Keng and Diamond Hill, opened on February 14. The Tai Wai-Hung Hom section was initially expected to open in the middle of last year after an earlier target of December 2018 was pushed back due to construction problems.
It was further delayed to late 2021 due to reinforcement work at Hung Hom station, where shoddy work was revealed by a whistle-blower. The opening of the cross-harbour section between Hung Hom and Admiralty has also been delayed from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022.
This article Hong Kong’s MTR Corp vows smooth launch of new trains and signalling system on East Rail line first appeared on South China Morning Post