The MTR Corporation has confirmed that two bridge columns supporting rail tracks near the West Rail Line’s Yuen Long station have sunk 20 millimetres over five years. Consolidation work is underway.

A spokesperson for the MTRC said it noticed that the settlement had occurred in 2012 and 2o13 at the columns along Long Wo Road, where a housing project is under construction nearby. In the second half of 2013, the settlement of the two bridge columns reached 20 millimetres. Construction at the third phase of the Grand YOHO housing project nearby was suspended.

Consolidation work of the Yuen Long station bridge columns.

Last October, MTRC, the government’s Buildings Department and Sun Hung Kai Properties – responsible for the nearby housing project – agreed to conduct consolidation work on the columns. Work is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, and the developer has agreed to cover the costs.

The MTRC said rail operations have remained safe and the service of West Rail line unaffected.

The Yuen Long engineering issue was first exposed by Apple Daily on Friday. It is the fifth engineering problem revealed by the press and lawmakers in recent weeks. The first four involved corner-cutting incidents and engineering mistakes. The MTR Corporation decided to conduct a review of processes and procedures for the Sha Tin to Central Link.

‘Many questions’

Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong, also a Yuen Long district councillor, said the Yuen Long problem was serious and involved public safety.

Consolidation work of the Yuen Long station bridge columns.

“There are many questions that the MTRC must answer: What’s the situation of the settlement? Can they promise 100 per cent safety for passengers? Did the government know about this? The incident was five years ago,” he said.

“The incident was known in 2013, and remedial work was only made last year. Why wasn’t it announced in 2013?” he added. “We are also very concerned about whether other columns were affected as well.”

DAB party lawmaker Leung Che-cheung, also a Yuen Long district councillor, said the area has a lot of underground caverns. He said the MTRC should explain if the problem was caused by inadequate piling work.

Gran YOHO’s previous phases. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Wikipedia user -Wpcpey.

DAB lawmaker Ben Chan said he was angered and surprised by the incident, as even the District Council did not know anything beforehand.

“It is of course not acceptable. We hope the MTR Corporation can tell more to the public and have more transparency,” he said.

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.