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LCQ20: Crowd control in MTR stations

     Following is a question by the Hon James To and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (May 9):


     The patronage of MTR has continuously increased from 102,604,000 passenger trips in March 2009 to 119,956,000 passenger trips in March 2012.  The MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) has earlier increased the train frequency of the Tsuen Wan Line in peak hours from every two minutes eight seconds to every two minutes, and the train frequency in non-peak hours has also been increased.  Some passengers have reflected that at present, the crowded conditions in Mong Kok, Prince Edward, Kowloon Bay, Wan Chai and Admiralty MTR Stations, etc. are particularly serious, and passengers have to wait for a long time before they can take the elevators to go from the station concourses to the platforms; even though MTRCL has increased the train frequency, it is still unable to satisfy the passengers' needs.  It has been reported that in response to the overcrowdedness in certain stations, MTRCL has earlier implemented crowd control during the morning peak hours by closing one third to half of the ticket gates in nine stations (including Mong Kok, Prince Edward, Sham Shui Po, Cheung Sha Wan, Lai Chi Kok, Mei Foo, Wong Tai Sin, Diamond Hill and Choi Hung) so as to avoid the influx of an excessive number of passengers onto the platforms.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:

(a) the data on patronage in peak hours in the aforesaid nine MTR stations, and the number of gates closed during the morning peak hours in each station; apart from such stations, whether MTRCL has implemented crowd control in other stations; apart from crowd control, whether MTRCL has any long-term measure to increase the number of passengers that can be accommodated on the platforms; if it knows, of the details of each measure;

(b) in the light of MTRCL's increase in train frequency, whether MTRCL or the Government has found the crowding problem deteriorating in stations along the Kwun Tong Line; whether MTRCL or the Transport Department (TD) has regularly assessed the crowded conditions at the concourse in various stations at present; if it has, of the assessment indicators; whether any individual station has been found to exceed the relevant standards;

(c) whether MTRCL had conducted any works to ease the passenger flows from station platforms to concourses and from concourses to the ground level in the past five years; if it had, of the stations, details of the projects and amounts of money involved in such works;

(d) whether the Government and MTRCL have drawn up guidelines to specify the numbers of passengers which can be accommodated on the station platforms; if they have, of the details of such guidelines; whether they have assessed if the present numbers of passengers on the station platforms in peak hours have already reached or are close to their maximum capacities; if they have, list the information on the relevant stations; and

(e) whether the Government (e.g. TD and the Fire Services Department) and MTRCL have put in place guidelines which aim at easing the passenger flows at station concourses; if they have, of the relevant guidelines; whether MTRCL had conducted any publicity (e.g. producing publicity materials and posting them at prominent positions of the stations to teach passengers how to evacuate safely and in an orderly manner) in the past, as well as what the means of evacuation are?


     In drawing up the service timetable for each railway line, the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) has already taken into consideration the travelling patterns of passengers and patronage of different areas and stations in order to ensure that railway service meets passenger demand.  At the same time, the Transport Department (TD) examines regular reports submitted by MTRCL on its service performance.  TD also conducts on-site investigations and inspections to ensure that railway service meets passenger demand.  If necessary, TD will advise MTRCL to adjust its service arrangements within the capacity of the operational system (such as the capacity of the signalling system and tracks available) in light of changes in passenger demand.

     The replies to various parts of the question are as follows:

(a) With regard to the nine stations raised in the question, namely Mong Kok, Prince Edward, Sham Shui Po, Cheung Sha Wan, Lai Chi Kok, Mei Foo, Wong Tai Sin, Diamond Hill and Choi Hung, the number of passengers entering and exiting each station during the busiest hour in the morning from Monday to Friday is set out in the Annex.  Depending on the passenger flow of the above-mentioned stations, MTRCL will implement different levels of crowd control measures during the morning peak hours, including the closure of three to seven entry gates intermittently.  Currently, MTRCL has not imposed the temporary gate closure measure at other stations.

     In managing passenger flow, MTRCL will also impose other measures, including the deployment of station assistants, to maintain order and ensure smooth passenger flow.  Currently, all MTR stations along the heavy rail lines are manned during service hours.  During morning and evening peak hours, and at busy stations including interchange stations where passenger flow is higher, MTRCL will deploy additional staff and station assistants to help manage passenger flow and maintain order.  The core duties of station staff and platform assistants at platforms include: (i) reminding passengers to queue up and maintain order while waiting for boarding; (ii) reminding passengers to queue up if they have not done so; (iii) preventing passengers from jumping queues, and ensuring they stand in the waiting area; (iv) taking suitable action to alleviate crowding situations such as switching the upward/downward direction of escalators; and (v) assisting passengers to board/alight from trains and preventing door charging when trains enter the platforms and open train doors.

(b) The primary function of the station platform is for passengers to wait, board and alight from trains, while passenger flow in the railway network is primarily driven by the train service frequency.  To alleviate crowding, since March 24, 2012, MTRCL has provided an additional 368 train trips per week on the three busiest rail lines, namely Tsuen Wan Line, Kwun Tong Line and Island Line, with a capacity to carry an additional 800,000 passengers.  To take the Tsuen Wan Line as an example, the frequency of train service during morning and evening peak hours has been enhanced to two minutes.  After the enhancement in train service frequency, MTRCL has conducted a survey on passenger flow at Admiralty Station which is a relatively busy station.  The result reveals that there has been a significant reduction in the number of passengers who cannot board the first arriving train headed towards Tsim Sha Tsui Station during the evening peak hours.  Since the implementation of the above-mentioned train service enhancement measure, the passenger flow at stations has become smoother.  MTRCL will continue to closely monitor passenger flow at stations and will implement effective measures when necessary to ensure smooth passenger flow.  TD will also oversee whether MTRCL meets the requirements of the relevant service standards to ensure that railway service meets passenger demand.

(c) From 2008 to April 2012, MTRCL has invested more than $130 million to provide various station facilities at thirty stations with a view to ensuring smoother passenger flow.  These facilities include nine new station entrances, eleven new escalators, six new travellators, nine new passenger lifts and twenty new entry gates.  Moreover, depending on the passenger flow of individual stations, twenty-one entry gates have also been relocated.

(d) Each MTR station has a different design and area due to different geographical locations and surrounding environment.  As previously mentioned, the primary function of the station platform is for passengers to wait, board and alight from trains, while passenger flow in the railway network is primarily driven by the train service frequency.  Train service for different railway lines and at different hours will not be identical as the service is designed to cope with passenger needs.  As patronage gradually grows, MTRCL has enhanced the frequency of train service to alleviate passenger demand during peak hours.  It is observed that the current passenger carrying capacity of each heavy rail line is sufficient to cope with passenger needs.  MTRCL has developed crowd control measures for each station to ensure smooth operations at station when passenger flow is higher.  As such, MTRCL advised that they have not drawn up guidelines on platform capacity.

(e) MTRCL has issued promotional publications including "Rail Service Suspension Passenger Guide" leaflet and "Travel Safely Everyday in the MTR" booklet to inform passengers of how to respond to railway incidents.  Passenger can obtain the information at MTR stations or download from the MTR website.  Besides, MTRCL has also established the Customer Service Rapid Response Unit, installed Service Information Panels at entry gates, and increased the number of signage and public announcements at stations to help passengers take appropriate contingency action in the event of railway incident.

Ends/Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:01


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