At a briefing session held after the incident, MTR Corporation's Chief of Operating Mr Francis Li Shing-kee stated the line is currently running on the backup system due to safety reasons. It will remain on the backup system until the main system is in good order again. There were 14 trains trapped between stations at the time, which had to be moved back to the stations for passengers to get off.
The spokesman also noted that some passengers at Fanling and Fo Tan stations had opened the doors and exited the train onto the tracks to return to stations and stated it is company policy to confirm that no passengers are on the track before any train can start running again.
He also said that in this instance, passengers had no need to leave the trains as the lighting, air conditioning and public announcement systems were working normally.
An investigation will be conducted later tonight to find the reasons for the failure.
Tens of thousands of commuters have been caught by surprise on Thursday morning, with the whole of MTR’s East Rail Line suspended due to a “signal failure”.
The rail operator first reported the glitch at 9.24am, saying a journey from the end station of Lo Wu to Hung Hom would take 10 to 15 minutes more than usual.
But just seven minutes later at 9.31pm, MTR announced the whole line had been suspended “for safety reasons”.
Shuttle buses between Kowloon Tong and Lo Wu have since been operating, but a backlog of passengers was still seen at many stations, including Tai Wai and Kowloon Tong.
It was a busy morning for taxi drivers who picked up many fares going to the New Territories following the suspension, cabbie Chow Wing-fuk said.
“There are so many [long-distance fares] that drivers even ignore customers going to the airport,” he said.
Chow said there was unusually high traffic flow at the Lion Rock Tunnel.
“Waterloo Road is now paralysed. If you want to go to the New Territories, you will have to bypass the tunnel and go another way,” he said.
Services were resumed around 11:30am.
According to the corporation’s interim report last year, the East Rail Line delivered 99.9 per cent of its pledged services between January and June 2017, above the 98.5 per cent required by the government.