No suspicious objects found

Top News | Charlotte Luo 19 Sep 2019

A fourth crack in the Hung Hom tracks where an East Rail train derailed was found during overnight inspections, but the search did not yield any suspicious object, says a senior MTR Corp official.

Speaking on a radio program, operations engineering chief Tony Lee Kar-yun said the new crack found was about one to two millimeters wide.

He said it was likely the cracks were formed as a result of the derailment on Tuesday, when eight people were injured. He did not rule out other possibilities.

Experts will be invited to find out the cause of the cracks, Lee said.

He added that repair workers have not found any foreign object on the tracks that could have caused the derailment.

An Electrical and Mechanical Services Department official confirmed that there were no foreign object found despite some claims the incident was sabotage.

Lee said he saw no obvious problem in a railroad switch signaling at the junction as it was working properly based on computer records.

The vice chairman of the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers in Hong Kong, Henry Cheung Ni-sang, said the derailed carriages could have hit the rails, causing the cracks.

"From the information we got, we can eliminate certain areas, such as the signalling system, or the point machine or anything related to the software. I believe it is most likely the hardware or the rail or the train caused the derailment," he said.

Cheung said if a foreign object was on the track at the time, the first carriage should have derailed.

He said a foreign object on the tracks also did not mean it was sabotage. "It could be a tree trunk, it could be a rock, it could be anything," he said.

The EMSD said two of four cracks were "broken rails."

Railways chief engineer Cheung Kim-ching said the "broken rail" was completely torn apart, but the cracks were just several millimeters wide.

The two parts of the broken rail were 30mm and 45mm wide, he said, adding the rail could have been dislocated after the derailed carriages were towed away.

The MTRC said the two cracks were around 30mm wide before the train was towed.

Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun said a lock system to prevent tracks from switching directions may have caused the train to derail. Tien is the former chief of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp, which operated the East Rail Line before it merged with MTR in 2007

It would take three to six months to determine the cause of the derailment.

charlotte.luo@singtaonewscorp.com

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