The Civic Party said on Thursday that continuous water seepage was found at the Express Rail Link tunnels at Nam Cheong, Shek Kong, Mai Po, Shing Mun to Tai Lin Pai, as well as the West Kowloon terminus.

The party’s lawmaker Jeremy Tam said some of the locations were flooded and the rust was found on the rails, citing photos and video footage provided by their source, an engineer. He said mineral deposits and moss were also found on walls.

The HK$84.4-billion Express Rail Link is expected to start operating in late September. Water leakage was first reported in 2016 while the railway facilities were under construction.

In May, the MTR Corporation also confirmed two incidents of water seepage affecting the signalling system near Mai Po and the West Kowloon terminus.

Transport and housing chief Frank Chan said on Thursday that the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department had already confirmed that the Express Rail Link was safe, and added that its opening date will not change.

West Kowloon XRL Terminus. Photo: Civic Party.

Tam told reporters that the water seepage problem was widespread, and may affect the signalling system, electrical equipment and other support structures of the Express Rail Link.

“The engineer said he worked at MTR construction for decades, but he has never seen such outrageous water seepage,” Tam said, referring to his source.

“[He] speculated that the MTRC did not do their early-stage surveying properly, and failed to design the tunnel with water seepage in mind, so parts of the tunnel do not have drainage facilities,” he added.

Civic Party lawmakers Tanya Chan and Jeremy Tam. Photo: Civic Party.

The Express Rail Link’s General Manager Simon Tang Wai-yung responded on Thursday, saying that he has not seen the photos and videos sent to the Civic Party, but that the railway’s tunnels are “mostly dry and in good condition.”

Tang said that, despite the tunnel walls’ watertight design, it was technically difficult to prevent groundwater seepage in practice. He said it was a “permissible situation” for water to accumulate before being drained.

He added that the structural integrity of the tunnels and the station was not affected, and the company would arrange remedial works if water seepage was found.

West Kowloon XRL Terminus. Photo: Civic Party.

The MTRC invited reporters to take a test ride on a section of the Express Rail Link on Thursday.

After the event, the company released a six-minute video clip of the ride filmed from the driver’s cabin. No apparent water seepage could be seen on the tunnel walls in the footage.

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.