[CityRail] Train Incidents Here and There


If you follow Ruben's blog, then you'll have seen his post before mine about the problems CityRail had today when apparently a fire alarm went off at Strathfield's signal box which halted all the trains on the network for almost twenty minutes before the network started up again with half an hour of delays on almost all of the lines, which soon became something like 40 minutes instead.

Strathfield signal box

I was actually on the train at that time which stopped at Epping station, so actually I was pretty lucky that I was close to home already and had chosen to leave the city early rather than sticking around. However I was pretty disgruntled to notice that there didn't seem to be any sort of alternative transport whatsoever other than catching a taxi home despite how close to home I was - unfortunately still not close enough to walk. Sure is a reassuring thought, huh?

The incident made me think about my only other experience of trains when I was in Hong Kong and all the alternative ways to travel which I so loved about that place, and which I had hated about Macau. I posted as such on ADN.

I'd forgotten the date, but I managed to dig up an English article about the event. I remember originally seeing about it in Singpao (not that I can read it). Unlike the English article, the Chinese ones appears to mention 300 people rather than 200 though.

A fire broke out in North Point MTR station yesterday morning. The mechanism of a protective door on the platform for passengers heading to Tseung Kwan O suddenly burst into flames causing thick smoke to billow through the station. As MTR personnel evacuated 200 passengers from the station, firefighters arrived to put out the flames. Train service on the Tseung Kwan O line was disrupted for three hours.

It interests me that Ruben mentions a similar sort of situation in Singapore on the MRT (as opposed to MTR!), which was also fixed in around three hours. What is more interesting though, is in the article he linked and in the articles I glanced through about the North Point incident, shuttle buses and other means of transport were all available to shift these displaced commuters. People in Hong Kong even complained that it wasn't provided 'immediately', and from what I have seen of transport in Hong Kong, there are so many transport options anyway, it would be perfectly easy to just change to a different method.

Smoke billowing in North Point station

This in contrast to the extreme difficulty which I had today in locating any sort of alternative transport at all, and finding the best solution was simply to wait until services resumed. I had hardly even noticed that anything had happened in Hong Kong. The incident did not affect other lines, and there were plenty of alternatives.

Reading up on it all though, why weren't there redundant/backup methods put in place for failure, or in this case the fact that personnel were all evacuated? It just seems like an extremely easy way for someone to come in and simultaneously screw over most of Sydney just by taking aim at Strathfield's signal control centre. Don't say I'm promoting terrorism, I'm only pointing out vulnerabilities to attack which could be exploited and one day just might be. Someone has to do it.

Strathfield signal box photo from Gartner Rose. North Point station (北角站) image from Takungpao.