Dead-stop day for roads and rails

Top News | Jane Cheung 14 Nov 2019

Much of Hong Kong was at a standstill yesterday with just one-fourth of all public transport operating.

Besides massive trouble on the rails, flash mob-organized road blocks were mounted before the morning rush hours, causing only about 100 bus routes out of 650 seeing limited services.

The paralysis followed day-long confrontations in and around Chinese University yesterday, which sparked widespread destruction across the city throughout the night.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said a usual day sees some 12 million trips being taken. But yesterday "we lost capacity for some nine million passengers after railway and bus services came under serious attack. Commuters were heavily affected in the morning."

By 11am, only 25 Kowloon Motor Bus and Long Win vehicles were running along with 70 by Citybus and New World plus 13 cross-harbor services.

The whole MTR East Rail Line was suspended due to destruction or obstruction of its outdoor rails. The Tseung Kwan O, Kwun Tong and Tsuen Wan lines were at times suspended completely due to disrupters preventing train doors from closing.

And various stations including Mong Kok, Tseung Kwan O, Tung Chung and Hang Hau were closed throughout the day despite services on lines being resumed.

The Transport Department said services were seriously affected yesterday morning due to "continued large-scale road blockages and damage to road facilities to varying degrees."

Kowloon and the eastern and western New Territories were the worst affected.

It was a nightmarish drive on the Tolo Highway connecting Sha Tin and Tai Po, which was in the front line of clashes around the CUHK. The entire highway was jammed on Tuesday, and many drivers were stuck in their vehicles beyond midnight.

Then yesterday morning saw the highway cordoned off completely. Traffic police were deployed to help jammed drivers to turn their vehicles around to return to Sha Tin.

Tin Shui Wai, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Tai Po were isolated without any public transportation.

Chan said a number of train stations had been damaged on Tuesday. And protesters set trains on the East Rail Line alight, hurled objects including bicycles and metal items onto rails and vandalized overhead wires.

"I'd like to make it clear that such attacks are very dangerous as a train can carry up to 2,000 passengers," he said.

"So I call for all people, regardless of their political stances and opinions, not to attack public transportation facilities.

"It not just a train that is under attack but the passengers on it."

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