We are committed to minimising rail disruptions. But when even the best in class, Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR), experiences on average one major disruption monthly, we are reminded of our Home Team’s “low crime does not mean no crime” message.
So the key question is, if and when it happens, what can we do to recover service speedily and to minimise inconvenience to commuters?
There must therefore be comprehensive contingency plans for breakdowns. More importantly, there must be actual and regular walk-throughs and “live rehearsals”. This will ensure smoother execution of such plans when disruptions happen.
Specifically, it would be important that SMRT/SBST actually walk through each contingency plan related to each station, and for the scenarios that they have envisaged with LTA. There must be Table Top Exercises, and also Ground Deployment Exercises where we put to test our contingency plans in a real-life environment. I am told that this is being done, both individually by each operator, as well as collectively when LTA coordinates multiple operator scenarios. And top management needs to be present at such exercises, as otherwise, the staff may carry them out half-heartedly, just to put a “tick” in the check-boxes. Through these exercises, we can also pick up learning points to further improve our plans.
I had earlier asked LTA to conduct one collective exercise with SMRT and SBST this month, so that we can test the contingency plans which they had enhanced since the 7 July incident. I will be there to observe the exercise.
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