The MTR Corporation has called on protesters to stop damaging station facilities and rail tracks, saying such act could further cripple services and pose a severe danger to passenger safety.
Operations director, Adi Lau, said during a meet-the-press session that the rail firm had been facing "unprecedented challenges" since the anti-extradition protests broke out in June, with over 120 of its stations vandalised.
He said some stations were running out of back-up equipment, making it difficult to conduct repairs. As a result, he said passengers had to endure long waits to purchase tickets or go through turnstiles.
“The most worrying part is we can see from recent incidents, the amount of equipment damaged had been escalating. And even more worrying is that the protesters throwing petrol bombs into our MTR stations as well as depots. And setting fire to our station entrances and throwing objects onto tracks and overhead lines… these acts could severely endanger the safety of the passengers as well as our staff”, he said.
Lau sidestepped claims that the rail operator had succumbed to political pressure from Beijing and the SAR government by closing many of its stations before and during large-scale protests.
He stressed the decisions were made following thorough risk assessments and discussions with government departments, with the priority being to protect the safety of its staff and passengers.
“Our mission is to provide safe and reliable service to customers, passengers and the people of Hong Kong. And most importantly, we have to protect the safety or our passengers and staff during these sort of protests and the risk assessment results advise us that we have to take action, including closing some of our stations”, he said.
The rail operator has found itself the major target of vandalism after protesters accused the firm of buckling to pressure from Beijing following a scathing attack by mainland Chinese media in late August, accusing the company of facilitating the actions of radicals by laying on extra trains.
Since then, the MTR has taken a much tougher stance against the demonstrators, obtaining a court injunction to prevent disruptive acts on its network and closing stations prior to protests.
We are running out of back-up equipment: MTR
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