7,000 suffer as new fault hits airport line (I don't understand why the services break down so often.)

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Thursday, September 16, 1999 7,000 suffer as new fault hits airport line


More than 7,000 passengers on the Airport Express and Tung Chung Line were delayed yesterday morning after a power fault slowed services on both lines.

Journeys to and from the airport, which should take 23 minutes, were lengthened by at least 30 minutes as travellers were stranded on trains after the fault occurred at about 9.50am.

Services were reduced to 20-minute intervals from the normal 10 minute-intervals while a shuttle bus service was provided to Chek Lap Kok.

The Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) initially blamed a signalling failure at Lai King station but said later that power supply equipment had failed. Services returned to normal at 11.30am.

Businessman Tony Chan Wai-kwan planned to use the Airport Express to take his daughter to Chek Lap Kok for a lunchtime flight to Chicago, but found trains were delayed when he arrived at Hong Kong station at 11am.

"We got on an airport bus and made it to Chek Lap Kok on time. It was more comfortable than going by train."

Passengers at Tsing Yi on the Tung Chung Line platform had to wait for half an hour until an Airport Express train was diverted there.

"I don't understand why the services break down so often. Why did the train stop and crawl like that. I am very late for work now," said Irene Ho, a Tsing Yi resident stranded on a train.

"The company has prided itself on efficiency. But can we still believe what it says?"

Yesterday's incident was the eighth reported disruption to Airport Express trains since the service was launched in June last year.

An MTRC spokeswoman said affected passengers would not receive any compensation as services were maintained despite the delay.

The New Territories West Branch of the Democratic Party said it had received 37 complaints about the disruption.

It accused the company of failing to learn from past incidents and feared such disruptions would harm Hong Kong's international image.

"I went down to Tsing Yi station to see for myself. It was total chaos there," party executive Michael Tse Wai-ming said.

"I took a diverted Airport Express train, which travelled to Hong Kong Island at a snail's pace. I overheard some foreigners saying they would never take the service again."

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-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), September 16, 1999

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