15 February 2007
Remarks of KCRC Chairman Mr Michael Tien on the West Rail Incident
Thank you for coming to this media briefing. The Management informed me of the West Rail incident yesterday within minutes after the occurrence. Throughout the day, I stayed in touch with Mr. Blake as actions were being taken to address the situation. I would like to apologise to all of our West Rail passengers affected by yesterday's incident and thank them for leaving the scene in an orderly manner as directed by our staff. This shows that Hong Kong people respond well to a chaotic situation.
I take note of the Government statements and the media coverage which gave due recognition to the way KCRC handled the incident, in particular the way the incident train driver and a Police Officer on the train had reacted. As Mr Blake [Mr James Blake, Chief Executive Office, KCRC] and Mr Lee [Mr Y T Li, Senior Director, Transport, KCRC] explained yesterday, the incident was caused by a small fire in a sealed transformer on the rooftop of a train causing a lot of smoke.
We have been in touch with the Japanese supplier, and today we have a three-member team flying in to join our own experts to carry out a thorough investigation. I would also like to thank Prof. S.L. Ho of the Electrical Mechanical Engineering Department of the Polytechnic University for agreeing to join the investigation as an independent specialist. Prof. Ho has previously helped us complete the KCRC technical investigation into the East Rail cracking incident. Before the investigation is completed, I would like to appeal to you all not to speculate on the cause. I can assure you that we will be accountable to both the Government and the public about the incident.
Currently, our top priority is to ensure the efficiency of our train service, and to avoid a recurrence of similar incidents. In this respect, I would like to thank all of our maintenance staff who had worked throughout the night till dawn this morning in all three KCRC maintenance centres to complete a thorough check of the transformers of the same type. The results show they all work satisfactorily. To ensure continued efficiency of our service, we will repeat the same check tonight, and Mr Blake has assured me that if necessary, these checks can continue.
I would also like to say that as soon as the incident occurred, all West Rail ticket gates were set to allow entries and exits without a fare deduction until the full service was resumed at about 1 p.m. yesterday. I would also like to thank Kowloon Motor Bus and other bus operators for their help in deploying about 60 buses to provide a shuttle service between Kam Sheung Road and Tsuen Wan West Stations yesterday. As another gesture to apologise for the inconvenience caused, we have decided to open the West Rail system for free rides between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. next Wednesday, that is the first working day after the Chinese New Year holiday.
Finally, I would like to say thank you to you all for your hard work in keeping the public well informed of the incident and wish you all prosperity and good health in the Year of the Pig.