19 August 2005
West Rail strives to improve the signalling system
 
At 9:08 am this morning, West Rail service was disrupted due to a signalling failure at south of Kam Sheung Road Station. Normal service was resumed at 9:46 am after the signalling system was repaired.
During the affected period, the journey time from Nam Cheong to Tuen Mun was extended by 6 to 15 minutes while that from Tuen Mun to Nam Cheong was extended by 5 to 20 minutes. The general public were informed immediately of the latest information about services through media and public announcements at stations and inside train compartments. Notices were also posted at stations and staff were deployed to provide assistance to passengers.
KCRC apologised for the inconvenience caused to affected passengers.
KCRC fully understands public’s concerns over the West Rail incidents occurred recently. After the commissioning of West Rail, the number of service delay for 8 minutes or above due to signalling failure was 21 in 2004 and 11 in 2005 (as of today).
In order to improve the situation, a series of measures have been taken to enhance the signalling system:
Hardware improvement
• Installation of individual uninterruptible power supplies for all signalling and communications equipment with remote control and alarm indications at the control centre to increase reliability and availability of the power supply system.
• Installation of independent power supply for each loop antenna and improvement of the electric wire connections to ensure that any failure would be limited to that particular antenna and the recovery time could be expedited.
• A comprehensive checking of all cable terminations to ensure stability.
Software improvement
• The software of the signalling facilities on train has been improved to enhance reliability.
KCRC has analysed the recent incidents and found that about 90% of the incidents were due to the problem of Axle Counter. During the incident, the train on the affected section had to be slowed down, thus extending journey time. KCRC has to further improve the earthing arrangements with a view to minimizing the impact on the signalling system.
KCRC has engaged a specialist to undertake an overall review of the lightning protection and earthing arrangements of the West Rail network. The review will be completed early next year.
Before the review by the specialist is completed, KCRC will employ the following measures to expedite the recovery time:
• The software has been upgraded recently. Under most of the circumstances, the duration to operate the train at reduced speed can be minimised after incident. Normal speed will be resumed as soon as possible so that the impact of the delay to passengers will be kept to minimal.
• Installation of a remote monitoring system at strategic locations to ensure that appropriate actions could be taken prior to any failure. KCRC has completed the test of system and equipment. Installation will be carried out soon with a view to putting the system in use gradually next year.
• Deployment of additional staff at strategic locations. Arrangement will be implemented as soon as possible.
• Strengthening the information dissemination mechanism during a service disruption so that passengers can have a clearer picture of the delay of the whole journey time.
A KCRC spokesman pointed out that West Rail adopted "fail safe" design. Service had not been suspended during all previous West Rail incidents, and passenger safety was not compromised.
KCRC has been proactively improving the railway services, and will continue to adopt appropriate measures to ensure West Rail and other railway systems operate safely and reliably.