Around 5,000 steel bars were improperly cut at the MTR’s Hung Hom station expansion project, contrary to an earlier account that put the number at less than 25, according to lawmaker Michael Tien.

Citing anonymous sources, Tien, the chair of a Legislative Council committee on railway matters, said on a radio program on Sunday that 20% of the 26,000 connections securing the platform wall to the floor were affected. He also said the main contractor Leighton Asia did not prove that it had rectified the problem, and suggested partially demolishing five of the affected walls to make sure.

The Hung Hom Station expansion project is part of the HK$97.1 billion Shatin to Central Link. In June, it was revealed that in 2015 workers had cut steel bars instead of correctly screwing them into the couplers connecting the platform wall and the floor.

Michael Tien. Photo: Citizen News.

Tien, who was formerly the chairman of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation before it merged with the MTR Corporation in 2007, attributed the information to an anonymous source, saying it was “likely to be accurate” and “in the right direction.”

“This latest information makes me deeply uncomfortable – I have been told… that Leighton Asia was asked to rectify [the problem] but in the end, there’s not much evidence to show they did,” Tien said.

“What worries me the most is that the platform may pass a stress test now, but in five to ten years, problems may emerge that will affect the whole railway,” he added.

At a press conference on June 6, MTRC representatives said that less than 25 defective connections were found during five inspections done in 2015. About a week later, Chief Executive Carrie Lam ordered a commission of enquiry into the Hung Hom station expansion led by retired judge Michael Hartmann.

In response to Tien’s claim, the MTRC said Leighton Asia gave assurances that the Hung Hom station expansion was built according to specifications. It said it has no further information beyond that of the report submitted to the government on June 15, and will cooperate with the investigation by the statutory commission.

Sha Tin to Central Link. Photo: MTRC.

Since June the MTRC has faced four engineering scandals relating to the Shatin to Central Link, affecting Hung Hom station, To Kwa Wan station and the Exhibition Centre station.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.