Kobe Steel doubts drive MTR train test

Top News | Staff reporters 20 Oct 2017

MTR Corp Ltd will start testing newly bought trains to ensure materials are up to standards.

Fresh doubts were cast yesterday over the quality of Express Rail Link trains as it emerged they were made from aluminum products from Kobe Steel, the Japanese firm slammed for falsifying data on product durability.

Kobe Steel has admitted that some of its aluminum and copper products did not meet customer specifications, and that it had falsified inspection data about their strength and durability, FactWire News Agency said. Kobe Steel's aluminum was used for the main structural frames of the high-speed trains that will run on the Express Rail Link.

Qingdao Sifang, the mainland manufacturer of the trains, procured the material in early 2013 from Kawasaki Heavy Industries, whose aluminum for railway cars was supplied by Kobe Steel.

Kawasaki told Qingdao Sifang that "the material supplied [by Kobe Steel] was not in the affected shipments," according to FactWire.

But Kobe Steel told FactWire that it was still inspecting aluminum products shipped over the past year and could not say if any products sold before then were problematic. It could only confirm by the end of this month if the aluminum used for the express rail trains was safe.

Responding to the report, MTRCL said last night it will conduct performance tests and metallurgical analysis on newly bought trains to ensure materials are up to standards.

The trains will be tested where they are manufactured and in Hong Kong upon their arrival. The trains will again be tested before they are put into use.

An MTRCL source told The Standard that the firm will not rely on suppliers' test results.

So far, the aluminum used in express rail trains passed tests done by MTRCL and their mainland maker.

In July last year, FactWire reported that 35 of Singapore's metro trains - also made by Qingdao Sifang - had cracks on their bodies and in key structural components.

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