Measures drawn up to deal with rail link emergencies

Top News | Jane Cheung 25 Apr 2018

Officials told lawmakers what measures will be employed if emergencies break out on the Express Rail Link but they did not address possible legal issues if passengers are evacuated from the train.

Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung asked at yesterday's Legislative Council co-location committee meeting if the Food and Health Bureau has the authority to stop a train from entering Hong Kong if an infectious disease breaks out.

His question came after an ongoing measles outbreak in Okinawa prompted a Hong Kong travel agent to cancel trips to the Japanese destination.

Undersecretary for Security Sonny Au Chi-kwong said mainland authorities will play the role of gatekeeper to prevent infected people from getting on the train.

In the event of an outbreak, officers on the train will isolate the affected compartment and notify the next station, he said.

"We will adopt an immediate quarantine if an infectious disease breaks out in a train compartment, and inform the next station for preparatory work," Au said.

Au said a quarantine area will be set up at the mainland section of the West Kowloon station and the Department of Health will discuss with corresponding mainland authorities ways to handle the outbreak of diseases.

Ann Chiang Lai-wan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong asked how a train breakdown will be handled.

"If a train breaks down and passengers have been waiting in compartments for a long time, what arrangements will be made if they feel sick and request to get out of the train?" she said.

Citing MTR guidelines, Au said the control center will deploy another train to push or pull the train to the next station.

Travel sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing asked how passengers will be evacuated in cases of arson or a spread of poisonous gas inside a train that is in the Hong Kong section. Au said the first of two measures is to evacuate passengers to another carriage, as doors in between carriages can block the spread of fire and smoke.

And if passengers need to get off a train, there are emergency exits every 250 meters in the tunnel and passengers can flee to the adjacent tunnel through the doors, where the control center will send another train to pick them up within 10 minutes, he said.

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