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  • Warning flag waved at 'unfair' critics of MTR
        Date:2018-04-11 

    The chairman of MTR Corp Ltd, Frederick Ma Si-hang, hit back yesterday at what he termed "unfair" and "politically charged" criticism, saying people are being given the wrong impression about service quality.

    Some people have even called for a government buyback of MTR shares in the wake of several severe delays like one on the East Rail Line in January, when services halted for two hours.

    But Ma argued on a Metro Radio program that the on-time performance of trains in recent years has been constant at 99.9 percent. The ratio of delays for more than five minutes is 0.1 percent, compared with 0.13 percent 10 years ago and 0.25 percent 20 years back.

    "It's just politics," he declared. "Legislators scold us whenever incidents occur, creating an impression MTR service is bad."

    He added: "There is a good remedy for this. Send citizens to New York and London for a week then they will find how good the MTR is."

    People have also criticized a suggested fare hike of 3.14 percent in June despite the MTR making a HK$16.8 billion profit last year.

    But Ma said there was an outlay of HK$8 billion annually for maintaining facilities and asked: "How can we maintain facilities without making a profit?"

    Ma noted it would be a government decision on whether to buy back shares, "but what should be done after a repurchase? We give a HK$4 billion dividend to the government every year so it can provide a transport subsidy. It's a mountain of gold. So why demolish the mountain?"

    He said he hoped authorities could soon approve a resumption of Express Rail Link test runs after a derailment last week. The MTR was submitting a report on the incident as soon as possible, he said.

    The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong's Vibrant Express had a problem after a test run on April 3. Four rear-cab wheels were off the rails at the Shek Kong depot.

    The chairman of the Legislative Council Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, Michael Tien Puk-sun, said a halt to trials was not the answer.

    The derailment was caused by a deformed I-beam supporting a maintenance track, and Tien said it would be better to use curving tracks implanted in concrete rather than the beam system.

    The panel also discussed the January delay due to a signal failure on the East Rail Line.

    Chief of engineering operations Tony Lee Kar-yun said the cause was a coding error in the train control system and had nothing to do with signal system updating works.



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