The MTR Corporation has announced three days of concessionary ticket prices after a train crash caused network disruption last week.

Two trains collided at Central station early last Monday before daily passenger services opened. The crash left two drivers in hospital, and Tsuen Wan Line services between Central and Admiralty suspended for two days.

MTRC Operations Director Adi Lau said passengers may enjoy half-price discounts between May 11 and 13. Sunday May 12 is the Birthday of the Buddha and the following day is a public holiday.

MTR Central station train collision

“We carefully chose the weekend and holidays to provide the concession after a risk analysis. We believe more than 13 million passenger trips will benefit from the concession,” Lau said at a Friday meeting at the legislature’s Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways.

At the meeting, Lau apologised to passengers affected by the crash.

Lau also said the MTRC will reserve HK$25 million to return to passengers through ticket concessions to compensate for the crash disruption. This amount is equal to what the corporation could be asked to pay as a fine to the government following service disruptions.

MTRC Operations Director Adi Lau
MTRC Operations Director Adi Lau. Photo: LegCo screenshot.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan said the government was highly concerned about the train crash incident.

He said the crash was first of its kind in 40 years, and the government had asked the MTRC for a thorough investigation, which is expected to take three months.

The incident occurred as a third back-up system for a new signalling system was being tested. Testing for the new HK$3.3 billion system – which is designed to increase the frequency of trains – has been halted.

“The government will only allow the MTRC to resume signal system tests after the MTRC confirms the cause of the incident and makes corrections,” Chan said.

MTR Central station train collision

Lawmaker Gary Fan said the MTRC faced a trust issue and the ticket concession was not enough in terms of responsibility.

“This was an incident that can cause deaths. No concession is enough. We want the truth and safety,” he said. “The current situation can be compared to an unscrupulous restaurant where customers got food poisoning, and it gives free rice to them hoping to solve the problem. It can’t.”

Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Michael Luk said that MTRC workers were overworked in the effort to restore service after the train crash: “Did the MTRC force the workers to report fewer overtime hours? This is absolutely exploitation and is not acceptable,” he said.

Lau said the MTRC would look into the issues Luk raised.

MTRC crashed trains
MTRC staff removing the crashed trains. Photo: MTRC.

Services on the Airport Express and Tung Chung lines were also severely disrupted on Sunday following an overhead cable power failure at Sunny Bay Station.

Lau said another HK$10 million will be reserved for ticket concessions next year.

On Thursday, new government data showed that the MTR could roll out a fare increase of up to 3.3 per cent this year, according to the fare pricing mechanism.

But the MTRC said it would roll out a rebate to passengers of 3.3 per cent as well: “This will result in no actual MTR fare increase for any passenger travelling with Octopus for the remainder of 2019,” it said.

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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.