The MTR Corporation is to make its pilot scheme for large musical instruments official, according to RTHK.

The four-month trial registration scheme for carrying large musical instruments on to the MTR began in November last year. It was introduced amid a public outcry, which erupted when a schoolgirl carrying a large traditional Chinese musical instrument was not allowed to board a train.

schoolgirl instrument
A schoolgirl who was stopped by MTR staff. Photo: Chan Ka Lun via Facebook.

Under the trial scheme, passengers had to register for an “Oversized Musical Instrument Permit” to take large instruments into the railway system. Permit-holders were able to carry musical instruments with a length of up to 145cm and with total dimensions of 235cm into MTR stations and carriages. The registered instruments can be taken into the railway system at all times, except the morning peak hour from 8:15am-9:15am on weekdays. Non-registered passengers are allowed objects limited to a maximum length of 130cm and total dimensions of 170cm.

See also: MTR’s new musical policies instrument criticised as registration begins

The railway company told RTHK that it has decided to make the scheme official because evaluations for the pilot scheme showed that train operation was smooth. It also said that the scheme was able to take care of passengers’ needs.

Francis Li Shing-kee, Head of Operating of the MTR’s East Region, also told RTHK that the pilot scheme had received 2,314 applications from November up until Monday. He added that after the scheme becomes official, the extended limits of 145cm in length and 235cm in total dimensions would not be changed.

MTR Fanling Station
MTR Fanling Station. File photo: Wikicommons.

He also added that the scheme will only apply to musical instruments and will not accommodate other objects, such as luggage.

The registration system was criticised when it was introduced last year. “It’s a trap,” Ada Wong Ying-kay, founder of the Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture, wrote in November, “the MTR has been in operation for decades and registration was never required before, nor have ‘musical instruments’ ever caused any ‘accidents’. In the past, the policy with regards to musical instruments has always been lax, so I don’t understand why there’s suddenly this new agenda against them.”

Netizens also blasted staff for imposing double standards and accused them of enforcing regulations selectively, in an obvious reference to parallel traders and mainland tourists, who are often seen carrying oversized goods on the system.

chantal yuen

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.