Legislative Council Panel on Transport on 23 April 1999
Progress Report on Implementation of Safety and Service Improvement Measures by the Hongkong Tramways Limited


This paper informs Members of the progress made by Hongkong Tramways Limited (HKT) in implementing its safety and service improvement measures.


2.When briefed on HKT's application for fare increase at the meeting on 9 January 1998, Members noted that HKT would make further safety and service improvements to its operations in 1998 and 1999. These measures include -

  1. implementing full-scale meal break arrangements whereby motormen will be given meal breaks of not less than 30 minutes;

  2. organizing courtesy training as well as a refresher course on defensive driving for motormen;

  3. installing a driver's vigilance device in each tramcar to enable trams to brake automatically during emergencies;

  4. upgrading the electrical and wiring system of all tramcars;

  5. installing a fully automatic track-switching system at all critical junctions; and

  6. completing the point conversion programme.
Meal break arrangements for motormen

3. HKT recruited 35 new motormen for the implementation of the full-scale meal break arrangements. Since 9 February 1998, all motormen have been given paid meal breaks of not less than 30 minutes.

Safety and courtesy training

4. Various training courses for motormen and other operational staff were organized in 1998. These courses included --

  1. defensive driving training courses and customer service training courses for all motormen and inspectors (completed in 1998);

  2. a counselling programme for new motormen (since January 1998, 51 new recruits have participated in the programme); and

  3. on-going training courses on industrial safety for supervisors and workshop staff.
Driver's Vigilance Device

5. HKT started the installation programme of a Driver's Vigilance Device, which enables the tram to brake automatically when the speed controller of a running tram is unattended, in May 1998. So far, 39 trams have been installed with such device. It is expected that the installation of the device in the entire fleet of 163 tramcars would be completed by the third quarter of 2000.

Electrical rewiring

6. To reduce fire hazards, all insulated wires in a tramcar, including signal wire, control and traction power cables, are being replaced. The electrical rewiring works are carried out together with the installation of the Driver's Vigilance Device. In this regard, HKT has completed the rewiring works of 39 tramcars so far and the remaining would be completed by the third quarter of 2000.

Automatic track-switching system

7. HKT is still testing its automatic track-switching system (ATSS), which applies computerized vehicle communication technology to control the turning of trams at junctions. The system aims to reduce the possibility of mechanical and human error, and improve the safety and reliability of tram operation.

8. Following a demonstration on the ATSS made by the equipment supplier, a trial of the communication system component was conducted in late 1998. A further test on the whole system is scheduled for May 1999. Subject to the test results, HKT would start installing the ATSS at 15 major junctions of the track in mid 1999, with a view to completing the installation by mid 2000.

Point conversion programme

9. Since 1996, HKT has already converted 30 points from single-bladed to double-bladed type to reduce the possibility of tram derailment. There are still some 30 single bladed points at 18 locations that require conversion. HKT would replace 22 of the points during 1999 and complete all the works by 2000.

Other measures

10. Apart from the above improvement measures committed when applying for fare increase in 1998, HKT has put into service a special maintenance tram fitted with equipment for track cleaning and overhead wire routine maintenance since July 1998 to enhance the efficiency of the maintenance work of the tram tracks. This helps reduce the accumulation of foreign objects in the tram tracks and hence reduce the possibility of tram derailment. In addition, HKT plans to undertake further measures to improve the efficiency of its operation. These include rationalization of tram services by curtailing routes with low utilization and re-scheduling of tram services to match passengers' travelling pattern; and adopting a Pay-As-You-Enter system to facilitate passengers' entry and exit from the tramcars and reduce the possibility of fare evasion.


11. HKT has completed the implementation of a full-scale meal break arrangement for motormen and the organization of training courses to improve the skill of motormen on safe driving. HKT has also made steady progress in other items, including rewiring of tramcars and installation of Driver's Vigilance Device. However, due to the time-consuming checking of the technical and safety aspects of the systems and repeated modifications on the specifications, the installation of the automatic track-switching system and the completion of the point conversion system has experienced delay. The Transport Department and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department will continue to closely monitor HKT's implementation programme to ensure a timely completion of all its safety and service improvement measures.

Transport Bureau
20 April 1999