Over the past few days, there's been a spate of incidents on the KCRC, Hong Kong's second railway company:

Now, of course, all of the incident are caused by the discovery of some cracks on the trains. This led the KCRC to switch to manual operations to relieve stress on the trains, and this led to a reduction in the quality of service (to a level which is still vastly superior to anything you might find in, say, England).

Why on earth is a manual system less stressful to the components than an automatic system? Do the automatics have only two settings, Full Speed Ahead, and Dead Stop? Given that that's how most Hong Kongers — at least those who drive minibuses, taxis and buses — drive anyway, it makes no sense that manual operations would be less stressful. From my own experience, having been on the KCRC many times, it does have gentle acceleration and deceleration. It's probably a lttle better than the MTR. The whole thing seems like quite a lot of fuss over a relatively minor problem.

I wonder how much of this fuss is related to the upcoming merger with the MTRC? There's no need to talk down the share price of the KCRC as it's government owned, and likewise, most of the MTRC is government owned, so there's no real need to talk their share price up.

A stream of safety incidents and lack of reliability on the part of the KCRC will go a long way towards convincing the public that the KCRC should be absorbed by the MTRC, however. (Not that public opinion seems to matter all that much in Hong Kong, but sometimes it can be important.)

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on January 20, 2006 2:05 PM.

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