LRT technician’s failure to fully comply with rules causes train crash: govt

2024-05-15 03:27     BY Tony Wong    Comment:0

The Public Works Bureau has announced the findings of its investigation into the exact cause of the crash involving two Light Rail Transit (LRT) trains on Wednesday last week when a test was carried out on the system’s Seac Pai Van section, confirming that the accident was caused by human error and had nothing to do with the system’s safety.

The bureau made the announcement in a statement on Friday.

After the accident occurred in the wee hours of Wednesday last week, the bureau announced some details that afternoon, saying that it did not rule out the possibility that the crash was caused by human error.

The government started train operation tests on the LRT Seac Pai Van section and the Cotai-Hengqin section earlier this year, after the two lines’ construction and the setting-up of their respective rail operating systems were “basically” completed.

The 1.6-kilometre-long Seac Pai Van section will connect the Macao Union Hospital in Cotai and Coloane’s sprawling Seac Pai Van public housing estate.

The Macau government is aiming to open both the Seac Pai Van section and the Cotai-Hengqin section by the end of this year.

The crash involving two LRT trains occurred at Union Hospital Station at around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday last week when a train operation test was carried out.

Train operation tests have been suspended on the Seac Pai Van section as well as on the Cotai-Hengqin section since last week’s accident.

How the accident occurred 

Friday’s statement said that train operation tests on the two sections had been carried out during the LRT non-service hours. The statement said that whenever the tests were carried out, technicians from the LRT system’s supplier temporarily worked in the LRT operation control centre at its depot in east Cotai.

The statement said that according to the required testing procedures, the supplier should only start train operation tests after its technicians had switched the LRT system’s software to another one and confirmed the exact locations of the trains to be used for tests.

In the wee hours of Wednesday last week, the statement said, a technician working at the LRT operation control centre failed to confirm that all of the testing trains, including the ones parked at Union Hospital Station’s platform, had gone through the required testing procedures before the commencement of tests, because of which he or she “mistakenly and prematurely” told a colleague on board a train parked at Union Hospital Station by radio to activate its operation, causing the train to crash into another train there, the statement said.

The crash slightly injured four technicians on board the two trains.

According to the statement, the Public Works Bureau had ordered the LRT system’s supplier, as well as all other private entities participating in train operation tests, to review their train testing procedures, come up with improved measures, and strengthen the training of their technicians, with the aim of preventing accidents of the same type from occurring again.

In the statement, the bureau pledged to hold the LRT system’s supplier accountable in accordance with the terms listed in its contract with the government.

The statement also underlined that the bureau will only resume train operation tests on both the Seac Pai Van section and the Cotai-Hengqin section after all the participating entities get their improved measures off the ground. 

This handout photo released by the Public Works Bureau (DSOP) in late March shows a Light Rail Transit (LRT) train on a test at Union Hospital Station in south Cotai.

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