LegCo Panel on Transport

Temporary Disruption of Tung Chung Line Service on 23 July 1998


On 23 July 1998 the Tung Chung Line service was disrupted and the frequency of service on the Airport Express was reduced, due to an incident involving damage to a rail crossing at Tsing Yi Station. This paper briefs Members on details and cause of this incident, and the subsequent action being taken by the Corporation.

The Incident

2. At about 9.50 am on 23 July 1998, an Airport-bound Airport Express train had difficulty to run at normal speed. To avoid delay to other trains, arrangements were therefore made to withdraw this train from service and passengers were detrained at Tsing Yi Station. Following this, the train operator drove the train in manual mode towards the sidings and was stopped by the Operations Control Centre just north of Tsing Yi Station.

3. Inspections on site showed that during this movement, the rail crossing had been damaged, thus blocking the operation of both the Airport Express and Tung Chung Line service.

4. To maintain Airport Express service, bi-directional working was introduced between Lai King and Tsing Yi tunnel siding, whilst Tung Chung Line service was suspended.

5. Arrangements were then made to complete the movement of the defective train from the affected track to the sidings. This was completed at 11.00 am.

6. Temporary arrangements were then put in place to enable train service to resume on Tung Chung Line as soon as possible.

7. Tung Chung Line service progressively resumed from 11.15 am, whilst Airport Express service resumed normal at 12.30 pm.

Train service during the incident

Airport Express

8. Service on the Airport Express was maintained at 20 minutes intervals throughout the incident. It resumed normal 12-minute headway service at 12.30 pm.

9. Normally In-Town-Check-in counters close 2 hours before the scheduled departure flight time. This was advanced by 30 minutes during the incident because of the reduction in Airport Express train service.

Tung Chung Line

10. During the period from 9.50 am to 11.15 am, Tung Chung Line service was temporarily suspended.

11. At 11.15 am, train service on Tung Chung Line from Hong Kong Station to Tsing Yi Station resumed at 10-minute headways.

12. From 12.45 pm, arrangements were made for Tung Chung Line trains to run alternatively from Hong Kong Station to Tsing Yi and Tung Chung. Tung Chung-bound trains used the Airport Express platform at Tsing Yi Station and did not stop at Lai King. The frequency of service was 8-minute between Hong Kong Station and Tsing Yi Station and 16-minute between Tsing Yi Station and Tung Chung Station.

Dissemination of information

13. At 9.58 am a red alert was issued by the Corporation. This was faxed to media organisations via Information Services Department.

14. From 10.04 am, MTR stations made PA announcements and put up notices to alert passengers of the service disruption.

15. From 10.25 am onwards until 1.30 pm the Corporation contacted the electronic media to provide update on train service arrangements.

16. The HK Inspecting Officer of Railway was informed of this incident before 12.00 noon.

17. At 5.40 pm a summary press release was issued by the Corporation to provide more detailed information about the incident and to advise the public of train service arrangements for the following day.

Alternative transport arrangements during the incident

18. Other transport operators were requested to strengthen their service along the affected section.

19. Transport Department set up the Emergency Transport Coordination Centre at 10.35 am to mobilise transport services to assist.

20. Free shuttle buses were arranged by the Corporation between Tung Chung Station and the following areas to serve Tung Chung Line passengers as follows :

Tsing Yi Stationfrom 10.50 am to 4.00 pm
Hong Kong Stationfrom 11.10 am to 2.50 pm
Kowloon Stationfrom 11.30 am to 2.30 pm

Repair work to the damaged track crossing

21. Immediate repairs were made to the track points and crossing, so that trains could run over the affected Airport Express route at Tsing Yi at reduced speed.

22. Further repairs were made overnight during the non-traffic hours of 23 July/24 July, to restore full services over both the Airport Express line and the Tung Chung Line routes at normal speed.

Cause for the incident

23. Investigations into the incident have established that the disruption was not caused by any technical defect. It was caused by the train movement described above.

24. The concerned train movement was carried out by the train operator who misunderstood instructions from the Operations Control Centre.

Follow-up Action

25. The Corporation is looking at how the likelihood of similar incidents can be avoided.

26. In the meantime, the Corporation is carrying out a review into arrangements made for handling affected passengers to see what improvements can be made for the future. This review will mainly focus in the following areas :

    - the effectiveness and efficiency of the recovery action

    - the suitability and efficiency of the train service arrangements during and after the incident

    - the speed, content and effectiveness of information provided to passengers

MTR Corporation
27 July 1998