Hong Kong Today

MTRC needs system overhaul

THE East Rail Line (ERL) service was disrupted for two hours during the peak period, with even the through trains stopped. It was the most serious delay caused by a glitch glitch (n) 小差錯 in four years or so, affecting hundreds of thousands of citizens and visitors. The backup system, however, could not be initiated immediately. The MTRC has to overhaul overhaul(v) 翻新 its signal system and contingency contingency (n) 偶然事件 mechanism. The incident also highlights the eastern New Territories great dependence on the ERL in north- and south-bound traffic. The authorities must set up more routes.

Past disruptions were usually due to the weather such as typhoons and rainstorms or perhaps triggered by glitches along the line. The most serious incident, for example, happened in December, 2013 when the Tseung Kwan O Line was stopped for nearly five hours due to an overhead overhead (adj) 架空的 power line breakdown. Lam Tin station had to be temporarily reopened to act as the interchange interchange (n) 接駁點 for harbour-crossing passengers on the Kwun Tong Line.

The problem this time was in the whole train signal system. The Tsing Yi Operations Control Centre responsible for signalling found a failure in the ERL. It was not fixed after a server reboot server reboot 重啟伺服器 and had to be restarted manually manually (adv)	人工地 but in vain. For safety, service was suspended.


Build proposed Northern Link quickly

THE backup systems of some local major service organisations, like the airport or stock exchange, will be initiated once the main system fails. The ERL backup system, however, did not function that way. Some passengers, impatient with the long wait inside carriages, forced open the doors and walked along the tracks. The MTRC had to ensure no one was on the track before initiating the backup system, resulting in another delay. The MTRC immediately arranged shuttle buses for the passengers. It was chaotic at first because there were not enough people to maintain order.

The ERL suspension caused traffic jams in areas around the Lion Rock Tunnel. Traffic was slow even on the Tolo Highway because a large number of passengers used it instead of the rail. The ERL is already over-burdened. The incident shows the need for a new rail line.

The Shatin to Central Link (SCL) opening next year can partially ease the situation. But the North District and border-crossing visitors still have to use the proposed Northern Link to connect the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line of the East Rail Line to the West Rail as an alternative when the ERL breaks down. In the New Territories North development, the authorities must have the Northern Link constructed. In the long term, a new north- and south-bound line may be needed.


Proper contingency plans needed

WHAT requires immediate attention is the breakdown in the train signal system. The ERL was built by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation. In the past, there were no plans to merge with the MTR system. Moreover, it has been in use for some decades and is aging. So the MTRC has been renewing the ERLs system during the construction of the SCL. Unfortunately, the old system broke down before being replaced.

MTRCs rail lines were built in different periods. Due to differences in design, system integration must be properly done. It is a necessary but complicated task. The aging of some systems may mean hidden trouble hidden trouble 隱患 . There are similar problems in rail systems abroad too. Singapores underground rail was disrupted many times and even suspended for 20 hours because of tunnel flooding after heavy rain in October 2017.

The MTRC should take heed after the incident and overhaul the system to find hidden problems. The backup and contingency abilities must also be enhanced, including regular drills, to avoid system breakdowns. If unfortunately an incident arises, there must be precise precise (adj) 精確的 contingency plans to minimise service disruption.


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