Delay certificates on the Hong Kong MTR

An notable aspect of railways in Japan are ‘delay certificates’ – small slips of paper produced by rail operators when a scheduled train doesn’t arrive as timetabled, so that passengers can prove to their superiors at school or work why they are arriving late. Rarely seen elsewhere in the world, in Hong Kong they are occasionally issued by the MTR following major delays.

Cross platform interchange at Mong Kok

A recent occurrence was following a fatality at Sheung Shui station on the East Rail line:

A passenger was killed on Friday after falling onto the train tracks at Sheung Shui MTR station.

A spokesperson for the MTR Corporation said the incident took place around 7:40am. A man in his 60s fell onto the tracks and was killed by an approaching train.

After the incident, train services between Fanling and Lo Wu and between Fanling and Lok Ma Chau were suspended for about an hour. Train services along the East Rail Line were also affected.

The MTR Corporation provided passengers with free shuttle bus services during the outage.

Train services resumed shortly after the man was removed from the tracks.

Affected commuters may apply for a delay certificate on the MTR Corporation’s website.

Officially called a ‘Notification on Information about the recent train service disruption’ (列車服務受阻通知書) by the MTR, these notices are only available via an online form.

The user fills in their personal details.

And a personalised delay certificate is emailed to the user.

Footnote

Wikipedia has more on the delay certificate topic.

Back in Hong Kong, it appears that in cases of minor delays, delay certificates can also be requested via email.

The main online form is found at http://tnsms1.mtr.com.hk/latecert/form_en.php, but it doesn’t seem to be working right now – presumably it is only accessible following an incident for which delay certificates are being issued for.

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Trackwork on the Hong Kong Tramways

When riding the Hong Kong Tramways, I was quite surprised to see how they maintaining their trackwork – by digging them up while trams are still running over the top!

Tram #4 joins the main line from the Happy Valley loop

As each worksite road vehicles had to be diverted onto other routes.

'Temporary traffic diversion' for road vehicles approaching the tram track relaying works

But trams were free to keep on rolling through the work site.

Tram #156 passes over a short stretch of relaid track, minus concrete

The maintenance workers arrived by road.

Hong Kong Tramways track maintenance truck at a work site

Cutting up the concrete that surrounded the tracks.

Steel tie bars link the two rails, concrete yet to be poured

New rails were put into place, but only bolted in place.

Short section of relaid track, bolted but not welded, and awaiting concrete

Welding having to wait until night time, when the trams stop running.

'NO ENTRY" sign beside a relaid section of tram track

With the concrete pour the final step.

Relaid section of tram track following the concrete pour

Job done!

Tram #132 eastbound in Wan Chai

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Driving through the Tsing Ma Bridge lower deck

Virtually every visitor to Hong Kong crosses the Tsing Ma Bridge – it is the only route linking Hong Kong International Airport to the rest of the city. But what most people don’t know is that the bridge has a second roadway for emergency use, located beneath the main deck.

Crossing the Ma Wan viaduct towards the Tsing Ma Bridge

The second longest suspension bridge at time of completion in 1997, the Tsing Ma Bridge has a main span of 1,377 metres (4,518 ft) and a clearance below of 62 metres (203 ft), the towers being 206 metres (676 ft) high. Together with the Ma Wan Viaduct and the Kap Shui Mun Bridge, it forms the 3.5 kilometre long Lantau Link, with six road lanes on the top deck, and two railway tracks and two road lanes on the lower deck.

The railway tracks carry trains on the MTR Airport Express and Tung Chung lines between Lantau Island and the rest of Hong Kong, but there isn’t much to see from the train window – just steel bridge trusses, and blue water far below the tracks.

Railway tracks beneath the Tsing Ma bridge

The lower deck also houses two single lane roadways for emergency use. The entry at the Lantau Island end of the bridge is easy to see.

Entrance to the lower deck roadway of the Tsing Ma Bridge

The roadway has 50 km/h speed limit, with vehicles over 4.6 metres high or carrying dangerous goods being banned from the confined space.

Entrance to the lower deck roadway of the Tsing Ma Bridge

The lower roadway is only open when required – with special regulations applied during periods of high winds.

Stage I
Hourly mean wind speed in excess of 40 kph but not exceeding 65 kph

  • Wind susceptible vehicles will be banned from using the Upper Deck of the Lantau Link and be diverted to use the Lower Deck.
  • Centre lanes (both directions) of Lantau Link will be closed to road traffic by displaying a “red cross” land use signal.
  • Changing lanes on the Upper Deck is not allowed when the centre lane is closed.
  • All vehicles must observe the speed limit of 50 kph.

Stage II
Hourly mean wind speed in excess of 65 kph

  • Upper Deck of the Lantau Link will be completely closed.
  • All vehicles should use the Lower Deck of the Lantau Link.

Here we see a motorcyclist headed west through the lower deck roadway after typhoon signal 8 was raised.

The same view from onboard a double decker bus.

As well as the journey back east over the bridge.

Footnote

Until 2015 the Tsing Ma Bridge Marathon also resulted in traffic being diverted onto the lower roadway with runners taking over the top deck – the route has since changed to avoid traffic disruptions.

Further reading

Photos of the Tsing Ma Bridge under construction, including views of inside the lower deck.

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Photos from my 2013 trip to Hong Kong

It has taken me almost four years, but I have finally finished uploading the photographs I took on my 2013 trip to Hong Kong.

Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island viewed from the International Commerce Centre

My itinerary.

  • Day 1: arrival
  • Day 2: Kowloon
  • Day 3: Big Buddha via Mui Wo
  • Day 4: trams on Hong Kong Island and the Central–Mid-Levels escalator
  • Day 5: Kwun Tong, Kowloon City, and Sky 100
  • Day 6: Disneyland
  • Day 7: Ma On Shan and Wu Kai Sha
  • Day 8: Cheung Chau
  • Day 9: Stanley
  • Day 10: Macau
  • Day 11: Kowloon City, remains of Kai Tak, and Victoria Peak
  • Day 12: Lamma Island
  • Day 13: Ma On Shan, Mongkok, and MTR East Rail
  • Day 14: MTR West Rail, Light Rail, and East Rail
  • Day 15: Hong Kong Airport

You can view the complete set of photos on Flickr – a total of 2,586 photos, – 100% captioned, and mostly geotagged.

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Disneyland Resort Line trains elsewhere on the MTR

For trains on the Disneyland Resort Line the task is pretty simple – shuttle between Sunny Bay and Hong Kong Disneyland all day, with nobody in the driving cab, and the onboard computer doing all of the hard work. But on very rare occasions, they can be seen elsewhere in Hong Kong.

Passing a northbound train for Sunny Bay at the crossing loop

But even driverless trains need regular maintenance, which for the Disneyland Resort Line trains requires a trip to Siu Wan Ho depot, a short distance down the Tung Chung line.

MTR Disneyland Resort line train on the test track at Siu Wan Ho depot

A track connection at the Tung Chung end of Sunny Bay station allows the trains to move between the two lines.

End of the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay

But for heavy overhauls the facilities at Siu Wan Ho depot are not up to the job, so the Disneyland Resort Line trains need to visit Kowloon Bay depot – the biggest maintenance facility on the MTR network.

But how do these trains make it halfway across Hong Kong? They move by night, after the last passenger carrying services have stopped running.

The route itself is quite convoluted:

小蠔灣車廠
→荔景站4號月台
→入荔景側線
→倒車回荔景2號月台往美孚站
→旺角站2號月台經渡線往油麻地站觀塘線月台
→九龍灣車廠

Which in English is:

Siu Wan Ho depot
→ Travel along Tung Chung Line
→ Lai King Station platform 4
→ Enter Lai King siding
→ Exit to Lai King platform 2
→ Travel along Tsuen Wan Line
→ Mong Kok Station platform 2, traverse crossover to Kwun Tong Line platforms at Yau Ma Tei Station
→ Travel along Kwun Tong Line
→ Kowloon Bay Depot

Footnote

The ‘MTR之今昔’ website has a full MTR network track diagram that shows the links between the normally separate MTR lines.

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