LCQ19: Alleviating problem of crowdedness of Light Rail during peak hours

     Following is a question by the Hon Holden Chow and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):


     At its meeting on April 19, 2016, the Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways of this Council discussed the "Capacity and loading of trains in the MTR network". As the problem of crowdedness of the Light Rail (LR) during the morning peak hours was serious, and the loadings of four of the routes (i.e. Route 505, Route 507, Route 614 and Route 615) had even reached 90 per cent, the Subcommittee passed a motion, urging the Government to discuss with the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) the implementation of a measure of deploying coupled-set vehicles on a full scale to run on LR routes with a loading of 80 per cent or above during the morning peak hours, so as to alleviate the problem of crowdedness concerned during such hours. However, some members of the local community and members of the public have relayed that the related problem of crowdedness has not yet been resolved. In addition, a paper submitted by MTRCL to the Working Group on Mass Transit Services of the Yuen Long District Council in April 2021 showed that only two coupled-set vehicles were arranged for LR Route 615 during the morning peak hours on weekdays, which were fewer than those for the other routes. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the current respective (i) loadings of and (ii) numbers of single-set and coupled-set vehicles running on the aforesaid four LR routes during the morning peak hours (set out in a table);

(2) given that some residents in New Territories West have relayed that the arrangement of deploying single-set/coupled-set vehicles made by MTRCL for LR Route 615 during the morning peak hours has resulted in a decline in its carrying capacity, whether the Government will consider discussing with MTRCL a further increase in the service frequencies of the coupled-set vehicles running on that route, so as to address the urgent needs of members of the public; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) whether it knows if MTRCL will consider increasing the service frequencies of the aforesaid four LR routes during the morning peak hours to divert passengers; if MTRCL will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     In consultation with the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL), my reply to the question raised by the Hon Holden Chow is as follows:

(1) According to the information provided by the MTRCL, the loading of the busiest section in the morning and the number of Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) for Routes 505, 507, 614 and 615 in 2022 are as follows:
Light Rail Route Loading No. of Single-set LRVs No. of Coupled-set LRVs
505 68 per cent - 7
507 74 per cent 4 5
507P 80 per cent 1 -
614 70 per cent
1 5
614P 5 -
615 85 per cent
6 -
615P 4 1

Note: The figures show the average loading of Route 614/614P and Route 615/615P. Within the Tuen Mun District, the alignments of Routes 614 and 614P overlap completely, same for Routes 615 and 615P. However, Routes 614P and 615P only operate between Tuen Mun Ferry Pier and Siu Hong Station, while Routes 614 and 615 provide cross-district services to Yuen Long after observing Siu Hong Station. The busiest sections of these two routes are normally located along the overlapping sections in Tuen Mun District. For passengers travelling within Tuen Mun District, it makes no difference to take Route 614 or 614P, or to take Route 615 or 615P. Therefore, using average loading of the Light Rail routes can more accurately reflect the actual situation.

(2) and (3) When determining the frequencies of Light Rail routes and deployment of single-set or coupled-set LRVs, the MTRCL will take into account factors such as travel patterns of passengers and patronage in different areas so that resources are properly allocated to meet the actual need of passengers. Regarding the deployment of coupled-set LRVs, the MTRCL also needs to consider the actual operating environment and conditions, such as the traffic flow and capacity of roads, the impact on journey time brought by technical constraints, etc. In fact, the carrying capacity of the Light Rail can be increased by either deploying additional single-set or coupled-set LRVs. A coupled-set LRV allows passengers to board or alight from two compartments at the same time when arriving at a stop. This is more efficient than two single-set LRVs with a better on-time performance, and is conducive to enhancing the overall operational efficiency and carrying capacity of the Light Rail. On the other hand, single-set LRVs can be deployed with greater flexibility, hence easier to enhance the carrying capacity by increasing service frequency.

     Besides, since various Light Rail routes run with overlapping sections, passengers may take more than one route to their destinations as needed, thereby helping with the diversion of passengers. For instance, Route 615 overlaps with two to three other routes in different sections in Tuen Mun area between Tuen Mun Pier and Siu Hong (including Routes 505, 610 and 615P), while three other routes also overlap with Route 615 at different sections between Siu Hong and Yuen Long (including Routes 610, 614, 751 and 761P), providing passengers with flexibility in choosing the routes that fit their travel patterns.

     To enhance the carrying capacity of the Light Rail, the MTRCL has ordered 40 additional LRVs of which 30 vehicles are already in service to replace the old ones. The remaining 10 vehicles are for expanding the fleet, which all will be put into service by batches in 2023. Moreover, the MTRCL has been closely monitoring the actual needs of passengers and the development of the community. Single-set and coupled-set LRVs will be deployed flexibly and services of different routes will be adjusted as appropriate. For instance, a special Route 507P has been introduced since September 2022 to run at morning peak hours and enhance the service of Route 507 in Tuen Mun area. The frequencies of Routes 614 and 614P as well as 615 and 615P have also been adjusted in December 2022 for a more even distribution of headway to improve the service level.

     The Government will continue to urge the MTRCL to closely monitor the operation and patronage of all Light Rail routes, and make timely adjustment and enhancement of the Light Rail services with a view to meeting the needs of passengers.

Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:00