Crowds at Tiu Keng Leng Station on Tuesday morning. Photo: Asia Times
Crowds at Tiu Keng Leng Station on Tuesday morning. Photo: Asia Times

Hong Kong commuters had a chaotic morning on Tuesday during rush hours with almost all lines on the city’s mass transit railways stopped or slowed down due to signal problems.

The chaos started at 6am when MTR Corporation announced that services on the Island Line, Kwun Tong Line and Tsuen Wan Line were reduced to running at eight minutes intervals, Apple Daily reported.

The problem affected all trains between Central and Tsuen Wan, Kennedy Town and Chai Wan, Whampoa and Tiu Keng Leng and from North Point to Po Lam.

Severe delays extended to 12 to 15 minute intervals at about 7:30am. The railway operator said at least 40 minutes of extra traveling time would be added to the journeys.

When the Hong Kong Line eventually resumed services at 9:20am, another line – the Tseung Kwan O Line – had signal problems at 10:20am, making trains between North Point and Po Lam, and Tiu King Leng and Lohas Park run in 10 to 20 minutes intervals, adding an extra 15 to 25 minutes in traveling time.

Overcrowding was reported at many MTR stations, with passengers forced to endure long waits for trains.

Hong Kong Station when the MTR services broke down on Tuesday. Photo: Facebook/Henry Cheung

A passenger sending her daughter to school said it took about 12 minutes from Yau Ma Tei to Wong Tai Sin on normal days, but on Tuesday morning, it took one hour.

Commuters were advised to consider using other forms of transport or allowing more time for travel.

However, long queues for buses, taxis and trams were also reported as people looked to other transport to get to work and school.

King’s Road in North Point on Hong Kong Island. Photo: SY Hung

MTR Corporation operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing said the team had noticed the signaling failure at about 5.30am on Tuesday as it started to prepare services for the three lines.

The command for train speed was unable to pass to trains on Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan and Hong Kong lines and they could only operate the trains manually at slow speed.

Speaking before an Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor called on employers to not penalize staff for getting to work late.

One month ago, the city also experienced rush hour chaos when people resumed work after super typhoon Mangkhut hit the city.

Read: Government slammed for traffic chaos after typhoon