The MTR Corporation has been accused of neglecting passenger safety after awarding a contract to HollySys, an automation technology company that was allegedly implicated in the Wenzhou train collision in 2011, according to Legislative Councillor Albert Chan Wai-yip. On Tuesday, the MTRC said that back in 2011, it delayed signing the contract with HollySys until an investigation report for the crash was published, Ming Pao reports.

Express Rail Link’s West Kowloon Terminus under construction. Photo: Wikimedia.

The deal, worth HK$488 million in total, puts HollySys in charge of the signalling system for both trackside and trainborne equipment for the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. MTRC said that it had thoroughly assessed the technological, safety and system standards of the service providers. It also said that the Highway Department monitored the process of assessing the service providers.

This comes amidst ongoing debates to provide an additional HK$19.6 billion of funds for Express Rail Link project. HKFP reported on Monday that the MTRC shareholders voted in favour of the continuation of the Express Rail Link project, and approved additional funding. The project faced opposition due to the unresolved issue over the joint immigration checkpoint.

HollySys was responsible for the train control system in the Ningbo–Taizhou–Wenzhou Railway, where the Wenzhou train collision happened. The collision killed 40 and injured more than 210 people. The investigation report released by China’s State Council said that there were ‘severe defects’ in the control centre equipment. However, the report did not name any company directly. It named individuals who were liable, including then-minister of railways Liu Zhijun and deputy head engineer Zhang Shuguang, both of whom have been convicted of corruption.

Parts of the train fell off a bridge after the crash.

A Nasdaq-listed company, HollySys was founded in 1993. Sina reported that the company had close ties with the Ministry of Railways, as well as the China Railway Construction Electrification Bureau Group, which was the integrator for high-speed rail projects.

Hermina Wong

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.