Hong Kong’s railway operator the MTR Corporation has confirmed two separate incidents of water seepage affecting both the express rail link’s signalling system near Mai Po and its West Kowloon terminus.

MTR said that during the trial run last Friday, there was an unstable signal for the section of the tracks near Mai Po and the trial run was temporarily suspended in accordance with safety regulations. A mechanic said that the signalling system may have been affected by moisture from groundwater.

The trial run resumed after an hour and 15 minutes. The railway operator said it was in close contact with its mainland counterpart throughout the incident and has notified the government.

Express Rail Link
Photo: GovHK.

A spokesperson for MTRC said that all underground construction projects have waterproof membranes and drainage systems in place, but it was impossible to completely prevent water seepage. They added that groundwater could seep through gaps between the tunnel’s walls.

The spokesperson also said that its team of engineers had inspected the tracks and confirmed that structural safety was not compromised.

The Highways Department has asked the MTR to conduct a thorough investigation and come up with a solution. MTR Operations Director Francis Li said on Wednesday that grouting work would be carried out to prevent further seepage.

Senior engineer Ngai Hok-yan told Ming Pao that groundwater is usually taken away by the drainage system and that it was abnormal for the signalling system to be impacted.

Express Rail Link
West Kowloon Terminus of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. File Photo: GovHK.

Local newspaper Oriental Daily also reported Wednesday that there was a serious case of water leaking from the ceiling at the Express Rail’s West Kowloon Terminus last month.

MTR told the paper that the incident took place around 6pm on April 15, and a detailed investigation found that rainwater had seeped through openings in the wall from electric cable installation. It did not affect the facilities in the station, and all openings in the wall were sealed after the installation work, the railway operator said.

Lawmaker Michael Tien, chair of the Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, said it was impossible for the rail to be completely waterproof, but the incidents were unlikely to cause structural issues.

“I don’t think there is any need to be concerned. But I cannot accept that the incidents were not revealed within three days,” he said.

Last month, it was discovered that a new express rail link train had disconnected from the tracks at Shek Kong depot in the New Territories.

The express rail link is expected to commence operating in September.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.