Big test to delay West Rail, Ma On Shan trains

Top News | Michael Shum 15 Apr 2021

The first trains on the West Rail and Ma On Shan lines will depart two hours later than scheduled at 7.30am on May 2 to allow for tests when the lines are merged.

The lines will connect in Hung Hom to form the new Tuen Ma Line, which is expected to fully open in the third quarter of the year.

Testing has begun and set for six to eight weekends and public holidays until June during nonservice hours.

But a test simulating full operation of the Tuen Ma Line will result in services being delayed on May 2.

MTR Corp divisional general manager James Chow So-hung said a large-scale test would be carried out in the early hours that morning simulating peak and nonpeak operation hours.

"It will involve over 50 trains going back and forth on the full trip of 27 stations for 56 kilometers between Wu Kai Sha station and Tuen Mun station, so extra time is required for preparation and testing," Chow said.

The rail operator will arrange free MTR shuttle bus routes during the delay.

Ten routes will connect affected stations to other lines. Six routes will be for West Rail passengers and the other four are for passengers of the first phase of Tuen Ma Line.

Seven of the express routes will not cover every station on the line. The remaining three will cover every station on the West Rail Line and the first phase of the Tuen Ma Line.

Notices will be put up at stations to guide passengers on their journeys with the shuttle bus service and the MTR will deploy over 300 additional staff to provide assistance.

Sammy Wong Kwan-wai, MTRC head of operations, said special fare arrangements will be in place for affected passengers.

Passengers taking the MTR and interchange to the shuttle bus service will be able to exit stations for free, with the fare waived for their preceding ride, and continue their journey with the shuttle bus provided by the MTR, according to Wong.

Designated reader devices will be set up at alighting points of shuttle bus services and passengers will see their fare for the subsequent railway trip waived automatically.

"We appeal to our passengers to plan their journey ahead and allow enough time to travel," Wong said. "And we would like to apologize in advance for any inconvenience caused."

To avoid affecting passengers, MTRC has arranged for most of the tests to be conducted during non-traffic hours at night.

"The purpose of the tests is to ensure smooth integration with the existing railway lines and to test train services as well as associated facilities in order to obtain approval from the government for the full commissioning," Chow said.

"The full train testing is an important part of our trial operations, demonstrating that the hardware, software and services will seamlessly integrate with the existing railway. We will do our best to resume services as soon as possible after completing the tests."

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