The MTR Corporation has made the unprecedented decision to stop operating trains along a large stretch of the Kwun Tong Line from 12pm on Saturday due to an authorised anti-extradition protest march in Kwun Tong.
No services will operate between Choi Hung and Tiu Keng Leng, with four stations closed completely. Yau Tong and Tiu Keng Leng stations will remain open but will only be served by Tseung Kwan O line trains.
The closure will remain in place until further notice.
The decision comes after state media attacked the MTR Corporation and accused it of helping protesters avoid police by putting on extra trains to clear stations.
The MTR Corporation has sometimes, at police request, stopped services to stations in areas where violence has broken out before, but this is thought to be the first time it has stopped trains running in advance due to a legal event.
The MTR Corporation said, in a brief statement, that the decision was taken based on risk assessments and discussions with police and transport authorities. It appealed for passengers to understand its decision.
March organiser Ventus Lau slammed the MTR's decision and warned that, as well as inconveniencing people across East Kowloon, it could put marchers in danger as there would be no way for them to leave the area after the protest.
"I think people will be very angry, and this anger will be targetted towards MTR as well," he said. "MTR is trying to suppress the freedom of expression of the people.
"This will only make more public disorder and danger to those people who are joining the peaceful march today, and also to those people who are going to work.
"All of these dangers are only posed by the MTR. They have to bear the whole responsibility."
Some businesses in East Kowloon were said to be closing early to allow their staff to get home.
On Friday, the High Court granted an interim injunction to the MTR Corporation to prevent anyone "from unlawfully and wilfully obstructing or interfering with the proper use of the stations and trains of the railway network".
The MTR says there have been recent cases in a number of stations, such as Kwai Fong on Thursday, where staff were surrounded and verbally abused by protesters, graffiti was sprayed inside and outside the station, and station facilities were vandalised.
Saturday's march starts at 1pm at the Tsun Yip Street Playground in Kwun Tong and ends at the Zero Carbon Building in Kowloon Bay. Police approved the event after organisers agreed to change the route.
Last updated: 2019-08-24 HKT 12:17