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Responding to Challenges

In 2014, we implemented a number of significant initiatives based on feedback from our passengers focusing on reducing congestion, upgrading facilities, and enhancing communication. Even though our Hong Kong transport operations continued to achieve world-class levels of performance overall, we are facing ongoing challenges for service delivery.

Reducing Congestion

We have taken steps to ease crowding in certain parts of our network by, for example, increasing the frequency of trains during peak periods to the capacity limit of our signalling equipment on many lines.

In 2014, we added 1,150 extra train services to our weekly heavy rail train schedule on the Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong, Island, East Rail, West Rail, Tseung Kwan O and Tung Chung lines. We implemented longer operating hours on selected Light Rail routes to allow passengers to interchange from the last West Rail Line service of the day for onward travel to 68 Light Rail stops. We also recruited 300 additional staff to offer assistance and give directions to passengers on our platforms.

As a result of sustained efforts over several years to make our services more comfortable and convenient for passengers, since 2012 we have added more than 2,400 additional train trips to our network each week and deployed over 1,000 extra staff to control passenger flows on our platforms.

In addition to upgrading the signalling systems on six existing lines and the Airport Express to allow us to run more frequent train trips, the long-term solution to congestion involves construction of additional lines that will enhance the overall robustness of our network. Two examples are the Shatin to Central Link, which is currently under construction, and the North Island Line, which has been recommended for development under the Railway Development Strategy.

 

Learn more …

 

Please click here to access information about average train frequency and service hours for all lines.

 

Upgrading our Assets

Here are some of the initiatives that we were working on to maintain and upgrade our assets during the year:

Light Rail

  • We replaced the platform canopy at Tai Tong Road Light Rail Stop to create a more spacious environment.
  • Work began in September 2014 to replace all existing Light Rail Single Journey Ticket Issuing Machines with new 2-in-1 models. When completed in 2015, add-value services will be available at all 150 platforms on all Light Rail stops.

Stations and In-station Facilities

  • Our programme to replace old-style tickets with more convenient Single Journey Smart Tickets was completed in March 2014.
  • We built new station entrances at Yuen Long Station, and in August 2014 we completed a connecting walkway in partnership with the developer of a neighbouring residential complex.
  • Across our network, eight new external lifts were installed to provide better station access. We also replaced five hydraulic lifts to provide swifter movement within our stations.
  • New public toilet facilities were completed in our stations at Mong Kok and Prince Edward.
  • Construction continued on the new Crystal Cube entrance at Tsim Sha Tsui Station that is scheduled to open in the second half of 2015.

Railway Infrastructure and Trains

  • A HK$3.3 billion contract to install replacement signalling systems using advanced Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) technology was awarded to two internationally renowned railway infrastructure suppliers. Starting in 2018, the Tsuen Wan Line will be upgraded first, followed by the Island, Kwun Tong, Tseung Kwan O, Tung Chung, Disneyland Resort and Airport Express lines. The whole project is targeted for completion in 2026.
  • We initiated the procurement process to replace all 78 M-type trains that are currently operating on the Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, Island and Tseung Kwan O lines with new 8-car trains. The new trains are due to come into service between 2019 and 2022, making journeys more comfortable for our passengers.

Enhancing Communication

MTR Mobile

During 2014, we expanded the MTR Mobile app with real-time station lift status reports, a Light Rail planner and MTR bus information to enhance awareness of our barrier-free facilities and improve our customers’ journey planning experience. The app was also upgraded to incorporate accessibility design, quicker navigation and better audio information for visually impaired passengers. At the end of 2014, a total of 2.4 million users had downloaded the app.

As a result of these initiatives, we received two Gold Awards in 2014 from the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and Equal Opportunities Commission in the Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme (Mobile Stream).

MTR Customer Website

In 2014, we also enhanced our customer website to comply with the latest standards for accessibility. According to a recent report on web accessibility of major websites in Hong Kong issued by the Hong Kong Blind Union, our site has achieved 100 per cent of requirements following the upgrade, compared with 76.9 per cent in 2012.

 

CSST Saves the Day

The Customer Service Support Team (CSST) was set up at the end of 2013 as part of our commitment to ensure that customers receive caring service during major railway incidents or service disruptions. The team, which is comprised of volunteers from various departments of the Company, is called out when needed to help with passenger enquiries and assist with crowd control, allowing station staff to focus on incident handling and recovery.

Most CSST volunteers have desk-based jobs with office duties, so many of them had little experience working with customers directly prior to volunteering. The skills needed to handle incidents are developed through training and briefings, as well as participation in monthly drills and familiarisation sessions. All volunteers receive appropriate recognition from the Company for their contributions in response to emergencies, including holiday-leave time in lieu, awards and appreciation certificates.

Between its establishment in October 2013 and the end of 2014, the CSST was called upon on six occasions. As a result of the volunteers’ swift deployment to problem sites and their professional conduct when assisting passengers, there was a noticeable reduction in the number of customer complaints arising from service disruptions during 2014.

 
 

New Procedures for Animals on Our Tracks

On 20 August 2014, a stray dog wandered onto the tracks at Sheung Shui Station on the East Rail Line. When attempts to guide the dog away from the track were not successful, it wandered down the line toward Fanling Station where it was struck by a train. This incident gave rise to much public concern.

To prevent a recurrence of similar incidents, we appointed a task force to conduct a thorough review of how the incident was handled and to make recommendations for improvements. We have subsequently implemented a number of enhanced measures in consultation with animal welfare experts, including sealing off gaps in boundary fences, stepping up the fence maintenance regime, increasing staff training, equipping staff with the right tools to handle animals and providing clearer instructions for train drivers to slow down or stop when a dog is reported on the tracks.

According to our new procedures when a dog is spotted on our tracks, staff will seek advice and assistance from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Trains will resume operating at normal speed when the dog is reported to have left the track area or cannot be found following a thorough search.