Two new MTR stations and an extension on the Tuen Ma Line phase one will be opened on Friday, February 14.
The Tuen Ma Line connects the existing West Rail Line from Tuen Mun and Ma On Shan Line, but only parts of the new line will open because of longstanding engineering issues at the Hung Hom station extension.
Hin Keng station, Diamond Hill station extension, and Kai Tak station are the first to open on the new line.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan said the government has been monitoring trial tests conducted by the MTR Corporation (MTRC) since October. He said the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department confirmed on Friday that the Tuen Ma Line phase one had met operational safety standards.
He said trains will run at a 3 and a half minute intervals. The travelling time from Tai Wai to Diamond Hill is expected to be reduced from 17 minutes to nine minutes. Chan added that he believed the new line would reduce the number of commuters travelling between Tai Wai and Kowloon Tong.
Asked why the MTRC chose to open the line on a Friday, instead of the usual practice of doing so on weekends, Chan said: “Under the current depressing social atmosphere, the MTRC wished to make an arrangement to surprise passengers.”
Local media revealed a corner-cutting scandal at the HK$97.1 billion Shatin to Central Link expansion project in 2018. Steel bars at the Hung Hom station expansion were found to be cut short, instead of being correctly screwed into couplers. An independent commission was formed by the government to investigate the construction issues.
“As for the Hung Hom station, the MTRC’s team and its consultants and contractors are working really hard to expedite the improvement work,” Chan said.
Chan said the target was to have the Tuen Ma Line section between Tai Wai and Hung Hom open by the end of next year.
“We would love to have it commissioned earlier, but it all depends how smooth progress is,” he said. “It’s going fairly smoothly, I would say.”
The remaining new stations of the Tuen Ma Line, which have yet to be opened, are in Sung Wong Toi and To Kwa Wan.