17 stations shuttered as illegal rally turns violent

Top News | Charlotte Luo 21 Oct 2019

Seventeen MTR stations shut down at 7 o'clock last night and 30 high-speed trips between the mainland and the West Kowloon Express Rail station were canceled as an illegal protest in ended in violence.

MTR Corp blamed "a signaling fault" for the cancellations, but prepared crowd-management measures earlier at the West Kowloon station - the planned endpoint of the rally from Tsim Sha Tsui.

In the end, protesters opted to deviate from the original route and instead gathered at Mong Kok and other nearby stations, where they set off several petrol bombs.

Because of this, the MTRC announced after 3pm that Yau Ma Tei and East Tsim Sha Tsui would be closed. Lai Chi Kok was also attacked with petrol bombs, forcing it to close down at 5pm.

In preparation for the rally, security was tightened around West Kowloon station yesterday morning. Huge water-filled barriers were erected outside, where 50 riot police officers were on standby.

Access points were restricted and passengers showed tickets and valid travel documents before entering the single open entrance - the station's exit K.

Earlier at 9am it was announced that Austin and Tsim Sha Tsui stations were to be shut down from noon.

Some passengers said they were not aware of the arrangement and had to walk at least 20 minutes to find the only entrance at the West Kowloon station.

A Tsim Sha Tsui resident said he walked about half an hour to Jordan station so he could take a train to Admiralty - creating a longer commute to his workplace in Tseung Kwan O. He said he did not feel his safety was threatened as the protesters were calm at the time.

The station also stopped sales of all tickets on the internet or through agents and the hotline for departing or arriving trips from noon.

"Passengers may travel on the East Rail Line to Lo Wu/Lok Ma Chau or go to Hung Hom Station to take the intercity through train. Ticket refunds can be obtained at the West Kowloon station within 30 days," the MTR website said in an announcement.

The 17 stations closed from 7pm included Central to Mei Foo stations on the Tsuen Wan Line and Yau Ma Tei to Prince Edward as well as Lok Fu stations on the Kwun Tong Line.

The Airport Express ran as normal until 1 pm.

Thereafter, the Airport Express only ran between Hong Kong station and the airport at 10-minute intervals, without stopping at Kowloon, Tsing Yi and AsiaWorld-Expo stations.

All other lines were closed at 10pm to allow for more time for repairs.


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