The MTRC strives for excellence

Updated: 2017-01-23 06:55

(HK Edition)

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Having read the article entitled "Restructuring needed to spare the MTRC from conflicting roles" by David Wong in your publication dated Jan 3, 2017, I would like to clarify some facts which are not true in the published content.

The MTR Corp (MTRC) aims to provide a safe, reliable and comfortable traveling environment for passengers. Currently, the MTR operates over 8,000 train services per weekday, and has an average daily patronage of over 5.5 million passenger journeys. The MTR's train services have been continually enhanced in recent years to cope with increasing patronage while also maintaining a world-leading on-time train service performance of 99.9 percent. For May and September of 2016, the train service performance was the best recorded for those respective months since the rail merger nine years ago.

To ensure that these high standards of service are upheld, the MTRC keeps investing huge resources in the maintenance and upgrading of railway assets. In 2015 alone, over HK$7 billion was spent on maintaining and upgrading railway facilities. The MTRC is also investing in major projects to optimize railway facilities for the traveling public, including the replacement of the signaling system in seven railway lines in the urban area and also the East Rail Line, to further enhance overall service. Many railway operators overseas will need to suspend part of their train services when upgrading or replacing their signaling systems. In Hong Kong, to ensure railway services are provided uninterrupted during these major works, an enormous amount of effort is made for the works and testing to be done solely during overnight non-traffic hours. Prudent and thorough risk assessments are conducted and appropriate precautions are taken to minimize any potential impacts on passengers.

Regarding the progress of railway projects, we would like to point out that MTRC attaches great importance to monitoring and cost control, and a robust governance framework and a set of stringent procedures are laid down for its project management. It is inevitable for major infrastructure projects to face continuing challenges. Taking the Sha Tin-Central Link as an example, archaeological finds were unearthed in the new station site in To Kwa Wan; work sites in Wan Chai are to be handed over later than expected; and additional foundation works are required to prepare for the future top-side development at Exhibition Station, etc. While most of these factors are widely known to the public, and are beyond the control of the MTRC, we have put in appropriate mitigation measures to overcome these challenges and brought the project back, as far as possible, to the construction timetable and funding.

Furthermore, the article wrongly accused the MTRC in saying that "many of its experienced management professionals have been sent to supervise its increasing number of overseas projects". In fact, the business development of MTRC in the mainland and overseas areas does not affect the development of its business in Hong Kong.

Currently, the MTRC employs over 17,000 staff in Hong Kong. About 80 of them are dedicated staff for businesses outside Hong Kong. Some of these staff work in Hong Kong, while the remainder are posted to subsidiaries or joint-venture companies on the mainland or overseas. MTRC currently employs about 8,000 staff beyond Hong Kong, with the majority being locally employed.

With regard to fares and promotions, the Fare Adjustment Mechanism has been introduced since the rail merger in 2007. Fares are adjusted in accordance with the economic conditions in the society. It is an open, objective and transparent mechanism. Over the years, as a result of the mechanism, the fare adjustments have been below the respective Consumer Price Index and also the Hong Kong Payroll Index each year.

At the same time, the MTRC offers a wide range of ongoing fare concessions and promotional schemes to benefit passengers. In 2015 alone, these fare promotions have brought savings of over HK$500 million to customers in addition to the HK$2.4 billion worth of ongoing fare concessions provided every year.

Regarding Wong's comments on the share structure of the MTRC, the Hong Kong SAR Government is the largest shareholder of the MTRC. As a listed company, MTRC seeks to advance the interests of our shareholders, and the government receives dividends as do other shareholders. Taking 2015 as an example, the HKSAR Government has received HK$4.7 billion worth of dividends arising from MTRC's business.

We hope this letter can enable your readers to better understand that the MTRC has been providing safe, reliable, convenient and efficient transport services for the traveling public, and at the same time has been upgrading services for sustainable development.

Osbert Kwan

senior manager,corporate relations, MTRC

(HK Edition 01/23/2017 page9)