Dozens of masked protesters brought trains to a halt during rush hour on Wednesday morning in an act of civil disobedience against the MTR Corporation.
The group, some wearing construction helmets typically seen at anti-extradition law protests, blocked the doors of a Chai Wan-bound train at Admiralty Station for nearly 15 minutes from around 8.15am, causing overcrowding on the platform and a disruption of Island Line services.
Two male protesters were also seen sitting on the floor, Apple Daily reported. Police officers were called to the scene and the rail operator urged commuters to consider other transport means. Demonstrators then chanted “Hong Kong police break the law knowingly.”
By 9.17am, the rail operator said the problem had been resolved and at 9.30am operations returned to normal on the Island Line.
On Sunday, a mob armed with sticks assaulted commuters, residents and journalists in Yuen Long station. At least 45 people were injured and 11 arrested in relation to the incident. The attack came hours after an anti-extradition law march on Hong Kong Island ended.
Video footage shared on social media showed assailants beating travellers inside stationary train carriages, prompting online accusations of inaction against the rail operator.
Numerous posts on the city’s Reddit-like LIHKG forum have been calling for non-cooperative actions on MTR trains since Monday, in response. One graphic distributed online said: “Hold the MTR accountable, blatant disregard for human lives. Start the class boycott, general strike, everyone contribute in their own way.”
A joint petition from MTR staff released on Monday said the decision to halt trains in Yuen Long was for the safety of passengers and that the doors failed to close owing to them being blocked.
“Because the operating staff could no longer ensure the safety of passengers and also due to the fact that some station staff had been physically assaulted, the Operations Control Centre quickly arranged Yuen Long Station was to be closed straightaway while dispatching an empty train to pick up those passengers who were still at the station,” it read.
The statement also said that staff alerted the police of the incident but officers did not arrive on the scene “for a prolonged period” of time.
Railway Response Team
Last December, the police launched a new Railway Response Team (RRT) “to strengthen the Force’s counter-terrorism preparedness and make [an] immediate intervention in terrorist attacks and other major incidents on the railway system.”
HKFP asked police why the RRT was apparently not deployed to Yuen Long station on Sunday. A spokesperson said: “As the Railway Response Team (RRT) was deployed to patrol and handle emergency incidents in stations along Island Line on July 21, it was unable to arrive Yuen Long Station to handle other cases immediately. RRT will step up patrols along stations of the West Rail Line.”
Additional reporting: Holmes Chan.