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LCQ3: Escalators connecting MTR Lam Tin Station with Kai Tin Road

     Following is a question by the Hon Paul Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (June 4):


     At present, there is an indoor escalator system (the escalator system) connecting Exit A of MTR Lam Tin Station with the Sceneway Garden and the hillside areas near Ping Tin Estate, which comprises three sections each having three escalators. Some residents and District Council members from the Lam Tin district have complained that the escalator system is overcrowded due to a rather high utilisation rate, and the air is stuffy due to inadequate fresh air generated by the air-conditioning system. Besides, the escalator system often has to be partly or wholly shut down for repairs because of its ageing parts, making the system even more overcrowded and frequently giving rise to accidents. On the other hand, the Kwun Tong District Council (KTDC) has endorsed the implementation of a district minor works project called "A stone staircase link between Ping Tin Estate and Lei Yue Mun Road" (the staircase project) to facilitate the working people living in Lam Tin to travel to and from the bus-stops for cross-harbour buses at the Toll Plaza of the Eastern Harbour Crossing. Yet, it is learned that the works of the project are yet to commence as the Civil Engineering and Development Department, responsible for the works of the project, has failed to reach an agreement with the Kwun Tong District Office on the issue of works supervision. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the policy bureau/government department which is responsible for monitoring the operation of the escalator system, and the design capacity as well as the current actual loading of the system; whether it has assessed the loading of the system during periods of repairs and maintenance, and whether such loading has exceeded the design capacity; if it has assessed, of the outcome and the improvement measures in place; if not, whether it will conduct such an assessment immediately;

(2) of the number of occasions, in each of the past three years, on which the escalator system was partly or wholly shut down due to malfunctioning of the system, and the repair and maintenance costs of the system;

(3) whether it has plans to upgrade the escalator system (including the air-conditioning system and standard of its mechanical parts) to reduce the frequencies of system failures and service suspensions for repair works; if so, of the details, as well as the estimated costs for the related works, and the time needed; if not, the reasons for that;

(4) how the Government will resolve the conflicts between the two aforesaid departments on the staircase project, and which department will be assigned to be responsible for the project and of the expected time for commencement of the works; and

(5) as the Transport Department (TD) has indicated in its reply to KTDC on the 8th of last month that there is no need to implement the proposed staircase project because its estimated utilization rate is not high, but the residents of Ping Tin Estate and Yau Lai Estate hold contrary views, of the statistics and justifications based on which TD has given such a view, and whether TD has consulted the residents of the two districts and the District Council members concerned; if so, of the results; if not, the reasons for that, and whether it will conduct such a consultation immediately?



     My reply to the Hon Paul Tse's question is as follows:

(1) Lam Tin Station was completed in 1989 for operation. There are a total of nine escalators at entrance/exit A, divided into three sections by groups of three each, connecting Lam Tin Station with Kai Tin Road. Escalators are regulated by the Lifts and Escalators Ordinance (Cap 618) (Ordinance), the enforcement of which is carried out by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD). EMSD points out that the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) is the owner of the abovementioned escalators. Under section 44 of the Ordinance, MTRCL must ensure that these escalators and their associated equipment or machinery are kept under proper repair and in safe working order.

     The current design of the nine escalators at entrance/exit A of Lam Tin Station can each handle 120 commuters per minute. MTRCL does not have the statistics for the actual escalator throughput. But, according to its observation, the escalators at present generally meet the needs of commuters as reflected by their utilisation. No passenger has to wait in queue to ride on the escalators.

(2) MTRCL points out that in the past three years, the nine escalators at entrance/exit A of Lam Tin Station functioned normally in more than 99 per cent of their operational time.  During the period, there were on average around eight failures per month for all of these nine escalators combined. The frequency of failure is comparable to that of other similar MTR escalators. According to MTRCL's record, these failures were mostly caused by external factors such as foreign objects caught at the edge of the steps.

     MTRCL has attached great importance to the repair/maintenance of escalators.  They are regularly checked and repaired, and their condition is closely monitored. According to the record of MTRCL, numerous components of the nine escalators have been replaced, including inspection of bearing, replacement of handrail chain, motor, floorplate, step and step wheel, as well as applying lubrication, so as to ensure proper operation of the escalators. The annual repair/maintenance expenditure of these nine escalators exceeds $700,000.

(3) In general, escalators inside MTR premises have a design lifespan of over 40 years.  At around their 25th year of use, the escalators will undergo a major mid-life refurbishment by MTRCL. MTRCL plans to carry out major refurbishment for all nine escalators at entrance/exit A of Lam Tin Station by batches between 2015 and 2019 at a cost of about $2 million per escalator. Different from the daily repair/maintenance, contractors have to repair and maintain each component of the whole escalator thoroughly during the major refurbishment. Worn-out components will have to be replaced as well. Each major refurbishment takes around three months, with one escalator undergoing the refurbishment at a time, so as to minimise the impact to passengers. During the refurbishment, MTRCL will closely monitor the work progress and passenger flow at concerned locations. Corresponding arrangements will be in place if necessary to ensure smooth passenger flow.

(4) and (5) Given the scope, complexity and technical requirements of the "stone staircase link between Ping Tin Estate and Lei Yue Mun Road" project, particularly the responsibilities of slope management and maintenance, the Home Affairs Department considers the implementation of the project not suitable under the District Minor Works Programme (Programme) after completing the initial project planning under the Programme. On March 27, 2014, the Kwun Tong District Office explained the above to the District Facilities Management Committee of the Kwun Tong District Council (KTDC).

     The proposed "stone staircase link between Ping Tin Estate and Lei Yue Mun Road" aims at linking up Ping Tin Estate and the section of Lei Yue Mun Road near Lei Yue Mun Road/Kai Tin Road roundabout. The connection point at Lei Yue Mun Road is about 500 metres away from the cross-harbour bus stops outside the Eastern Harbour Crossing (EHC) portal and St. Antonius Girls' College. Besides, the staircase is to be built along a very steep slope of a gradient of 30 to 60 degrees and at a height of about 40 metres, with as many as 260 steps or so. It is also expected that the construction of the staircase requires felling or replanting of quite a number of trees.

     At present, residents of Ping Tin Estate can travel via On Tin Street and Kai Tin Road to Lei Yue Mun Road. Residents can also access Lam Tin Public Transport Interchange (PTI) from Kai Tin Road via MTR Lam Tin Station to take public transport or ride on MTR for trips to and from various districts in Hong Kong. Also, a bus route (no. 603) operated inside On Tin Estate runs to and from Central and Western District on Hong Kong side via the EHC. The Transport Department (TD) anticipates that most residents will still use the existing footpath(s) and MTR station facilities for travelling between On Tin Street and Lei Yue Mun Road or Lam Tin PTI. TD is of the view that the passenger flow of the proposed staircase will be much lower than that of public pedestrian facilities in general. As such, from the traffic and transport perspective, TD considers it not necessary to construct the proposed staircase pedestrian link. As the original proposal was raised by KTDC, TD has already conveyed its assessment to KTDC directly.

Ends/Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Issued at HKT 11:41


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