Hong Kong’s railway operator has confirmed that the wheels on the express rail link’s new trains experienced higher-than-expected levels of wearing on trial runs.

The new line, which is expected to start operations in September, has been undergoing tests since April. The MTR Corporation said its maintenance staff discovered higher than expected levels of wearing, but it was reduced by adding lubricants. The wearing did not affect the trial runs, the company said.

MTRC Chief of Operating Francis Li said on Thursday that abrasion occurs naturally, but declined to reveal details despite repeated questions from reporters.

Express Rail Link
Photo: GovHK.

“Like driving a private car, I don’t think it is correct to say that the tyres will not wear out,” he said. But he maintained that the wheels are in line with operational requirements.

Li said the trial will provide opportunities for staff members to train in how to deal with similar incidents smoothly in the future.

The incident was first reported by Oriental Daily before it was confirmed by the company. Asked why the MTRC did not proactively reveal recent problems, Li said the MTRC will reveal incidents that are unusual or may have safety implications.

Express Rail Link
Chief Executive Carrie Lam on an Express Rail Link train. Photo: GovHK.

This week, the MTRC confirmed two separate incidents of water seepage affecting the express rail link’s signalling system near Mai Po and the West Kowloon terminus.

Transport Secretary Frank Chan said on Wednesday that water seepage and signal instability were unavoidable in major infrastructure projects, but it was most important to find pr0oblems during the trials and make full arrangements for the future.

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

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.