25 February 2003
Light Rail incident report published
The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation today (Tuesday) published the investigation report on the Light Rail derailment incident on 18 December 2002.
The investigation, which was carried out by a team of KCRC railway specialists, concluded that the major possible factors leading to the derailment of the front wheels of the light rail vehicle were as follows:
(a)          The two left-turning turnouts in close proximity to one another had resulted in a high rate of wear of both the tongue rail and the stock rail. A groove had also been worn in the tongue blade by the wear resulting from the centrifugal force of the light rail vehicle.
(b)          The high rate of wear of the left-turning tongue blade was attributable to a temporary re-routing of Route 505 since 15 September 2002 to facilitate the construction works at the West Rail/Light Rail interchange station at Siu Hong. The re-routing led to a substantial increase in the frequency of Light Rail vehicles running over this section of tracks.
(c)          Although the unusually high rate of wear had resulted in the inspection by the Senior Supervisor on 9 November 2002, and had been noted by the Maintenance Officer, no further action had been taken. The undesirable combined profiles of the tongue blade and stock rail head had not been noted or reported by either the Senior Supervisor or the patrolman. As a result, preventive maintenance had not been effected which might have prevented the derailment.
The investigation team also concluded that there had not been any sign of aging of the Light Rail system which is well maintained with regular inspections, servicing and design improvements.
Following the derailment incident, KCRC has completed a system-wide check on the condition of all the track turnouts in the network; the condition of the wheels of all light rail vehicles; and the automatic point machines and the associated signalling system. Through this inspection, KCRC has confirmed that the Light Rail system is in good condition and is operating safely.
With regard to incident handling, the team found that all the emergency handling procedures were properly followed. It took longer to re-rail the incident vehicle because of two unsuccessful attempts to put the vehicle back on track due to the trapping of a gear box by the damaged turnout. The need to maintain Light Rail service on nearby tracks also limited the area that could be used by the recovery personnel and the equipment.
The investigation team recommended a series of measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident and to deal with emergencies. These include:
•           Stop running light rail vehicles through the incident location until adequate measures have been implemented;
•           Install an external checkrail on the outside rails of the incident turnout;
•           Install a rail lubricator at the turnout;
•           Investigate to see if there would be any benefit in installing a turnout of a different design;
•           Review the maintenance management system, including the inspection frequency and maintenance standards of the track;
•           Construction and maintenance works should be coordinated or phased, and its risk and impacts be carefully assessed;
•           Explore the use of more effective tools and equipment to improve the efficiency of re-railing operation;
•           Consider direct liaison with public transport operators to facilitate early mobilization of alternative transport services; and
•           Explore increasing the volume, frequency and clarity of the public announcements.
The recommendations were endorsed by a reviewing team headed by Mr K K Lee, Director, East Rail Extensions.
The Corporation has accepted all the findings and recommendations of the investigation team. Some of the recommendations have already been implemented and some are being implemented as quickly as possible.
A special committee, which was set up to determine the accountability of the staff concerned, concluded that eight Light Rail staff members including some senior staff have failed to perform their duties to the full extent expected of them. Appropriate disciplinary action, ranging from verbal and written warnings to demotion and suspension without pay, has been taken against them.