LCQ8: Closing of tunnel tubes at night


Following is a question by the Hon Bernard Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport, Mr. Nicholas Ng, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):


It is learnt that serious traffic accidents sometimes occur when one-tube-two-way-operation is implemented at night. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) Whether it knows the details regarding the present practice of closing various tunnel tubes at night, including the respective average numbers of days closed per month, the numbers of hours per day and the reasons for closure;

(b) of the numbers of traffic accidents which occurred within the various tunnel zones when one-tube-two-way-operation was in force in the past five years and, among these, the respective numbers of accidents which occurred due to speeding, improper overtaking and without using the dipped headlight;

(c) whether there has been publicity on the safe driving code during one-tube-two-way-operation; if so, how effective the publicity is; if not, why not; and

(d) whether it has assessed the possibility of shortening the number of days per month and the hours per day for closing various tunnels, so as to reduce the chances of traffic accidents?


Madam President,

(a) Road tunnels must be regularly cleaned, inspected and maintained. The road surface, wall panels, electrical and mechanical equipment and services must be inspected, maintained and replaced as necessary. For these purposes, one tube of a tunnel is closed regularly at night, normally at about midnight when traffic is light, and re-opens before 6.00 a.m. the following day. Frequencies of tube closure range from 16 times to 28 times per month, depending on the conditions of the tunnel and utilisation rates. As far as possible, one-tube-two-way operation is not implemented during weekends and on the eve of major festivals.

(b) In the first eleven months of 1998 and the five years preceding (1993-1997), there were a total of 171 accidents during the one-tube-two-way operation. Of these accidents, 25 related to drivers driving too fast for the traffic conditions, one involved overtaking negligently, and three related to the improper use of headlight or the mainbeam headlights.

(c) The tunnel operators have taken various measures to publicise and enforce safe driving during the one-tube-two-way operation, including:

(i) placing traffic signs, traffic cones and flashing beacons at appropriate locations within tunnel areas to channel motorists to the right lane;

(ii) clear indication of lowering of speed limit to 50kph;

(iii) notices to indicate radar speed check in action; and

(iv) broadcasting of road safety and traffic lane discipline messages within tunnels.

These publicity efforts are backed up by regular patrols by tunnel staff and enforcement of the tunnel regulation. Since January 1998, driving offence points penalty was introduced for speeding and crossing double white lines in tunnel areas at any time. This should help to deter such driving behaviour in tunnels.

(d) The tunnel companies will not impose one-tube-two-way operation for any period longer than necessary to enable completion of regular maintenance, inspection and cleaning works. The tunnel operators, Hong Kong Police and Transport Department will continue to monitor hours of operation for one-tube-two-way operation to ensure that they are kept to the minimum necessary.

End/Wednesday, December 16, 1998