The West Rail Line and Tsuen Wan Line were overcrowded during morning peak hours last year, according to documents from the MTR Corporation.

The MTRC presented data from 2015 to the Legislative Council on Wednesday. It showed that – with four persons standing per square metre – the West Rail Line was at 104 percent loading rate – the same as 2014. Passenger density on the Tsuen Wan Line was at 102 percent loading rate, a four percent increase from the previous year.

Loading rates of other lines, including the Tseung Kwan O Line, Island Line, Kwun Tong Line and East Rail Line during peak hours were between 92 and 97 percent. The lowest loading rate, 32 percent, was recorded on the Disney Line, although it rose six percent from 2014, the highest increase among all lines.

Photo: Wikicommons.

The biggest drop in loading rate was recorded at the Airport Express, where passenger density decreased 14 percent to 47 percent last year.

Changes in passenger behaviour

The design capacity of train compartments allows for six persons standing per square metre, but – according to recent MTRC observations – passengers’ commuting behaviour and preferences have changed and the actual carrying capacity is less than the design capacity.

“People are less willing to board a train that looks crowded – although space is still available, they would rather wait for the next train,” the MTRC said in a document.

In a separate document written by the LegCo secretariat, it was mentioned that the government noticed the increasing use of mobile devices, which requires more personal space on trains.

The MTRC said that it has improved train frequency, passenger education, platform management and train door systems to increase capacity and efficiency.

A Light Rail train. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Light Rail system, meanwhile, recorded a overall passenger loading rate of 82 percent in 2015 during the busiest hours of the morning rush, assuming a carrying capacity of 200 passengers for each vehicle.

The line with the highest loading rate was the 505 service between Sam Shing and Siu Hong, recorded at 94 percent. It was followed by the 507 service between Tuen Mun Ferry Pier and Tin King, at 93 percent.

The MTRC said it had inserted short haul special trains for lines in high demand during morning peak hours to transport passengers to West Rail Line stations.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.