Hong Kong MTR official says no suspicious objects found on tracks; station reopens after derailment

Eight people were injured when the carriages came off the tracks as a train approached Hung Hom station during rush hour on Sept 17, 2019.
Eight people were injured when the carriages came off the tracks as a train approached Hung Hom station during rush hour on Sept 17, 2019.PHOTO: NYTIMES

HONG KONG - A top official of Hong Kong's railway operator MTR said on Wednesday (Sept 18) that they have not  found any suspicious objects on the tracks in Hung Hom station where a train derailed on Tuesday, local media reported.

Mr Tony Lee, MTR's chief of operations engineering, told RTHK that repair workers have not found any foreign objects on the tracks that could have caused the derailment.

He revealed that they had discovered one more crack in the rail during overnight inspections.

One platform was opened for service on Wednesday at Hung Hom station for the East Rail Line, after Tuesday's derailment led to a suspension of services for nearly 24 hours between Hung Hom and Mong Kok East, RTHK reported.

Eight people were injured when the carriages came off the tracks as a train approached Hung Hom during Tuesday's rush hour.

Some pro-Beijing media had speculated that sabotage could have caused the accident. The rail operator had been targeted by anti-extradition bill protesters who had damaged several stations over the last few weeks.

The MTR has said there were at least three small cracks on the track. But it said it remains to be seen whether they had been there prior to the derailment, or whether they had been caused by the incident.

Mr Lee told RTHK that workers had found a fourth crack at the accident site during overnight inspections, adding that it was about 1 to 2 millimetres wide. 

But an expert said the cracks could be the result of Tuesday's derailment and not the cause.

Mr Henry Cheung, vice-chairman of the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers in Hong Kong, told RTHK that the derailed compartments could have hits the rails, leading to the cracks.

"From the information we get, we can eliminate certain areas, such as the signalling system, or the point machine or anything related to the software. I believe it is most likely the hardware or the rail or the train causing the derailment," he said.

Overnight, workers used lifting equipment to put the three derailed carriages back on the tracks.

Cross-border trains using the East Rail Line have also been affected.

The north-bound Guangzhou-Kowloon through trains Z814 and Z802 have been cancelled, as have the south-bound Z801 and Z815.

 

The Shanghai-Kowloon through train Z99, which was scheduled to arrive at Hung Hom at 1.01pm, has been cancelled. The north-bound Z100 to Shanghai from Hung Hom, which was due to leave at 3.15pm, will also not run, according to RTHK.