Hong Kong’s protest-hit University MTR station reopens after five weeks

Sum Lok-kei

Tighter security was in place at a railway station reopened on Saturday more than a month after it was trashed by radical protesters during bitter clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators.

University station, which is attached to Chinese University’s Sha Tin campus, had been closed by the MTR Corporation since November 12.

Back then, the campus was the site of clashes between protesters and police, during which thousands of tear gas rounds and other non-lethal ammunition were met with petrol bombs and bricks.

During clashes, the railway firm said, glass inside the station was shattered and communication facilities destroyed. Some equipment was taken and ticketing facilities were trashed, it said, adding earlier that restoring the station had been no different to rebuilding it.

The university, which cancelled classes from November 13, will start the next semester on January 6.

On Saturday, three out of four station exits were opened, with more security guards than usual standing at turnstiles.

A security booth had been set up outside exit B. Anyone looking to enter the campus via the station was asked to present student or staff identification, or register at the booth.

The exit which remained closed – exit D, inside the campus – was still boarded up, following vandalism by protesters.

The station’s exit D was still closed on Saturday. Photo: Sum Lok-kei

Plastic boards and barbed wire were installed along exposed railway tracks inside the campus. Last month, objects were thrown onto the tracks to disrupt traffic.

At 10am on Saturday, the station was not particularly busy, and most shops attached to it remained shut.

Some station facilities, such as display monitors and an ATM, had not yet been repaired. But ticketing machines, which had been vandalised, were fixed.

An insurance agent, aged 50, said the closure had added 30 minutes to her commute from Tai Po to Ma On Shan. She said she had to take the MTR to Tai Wai over the past month, and change to the Ma On Shan line.

At least 80 teachers arrested over Hong Kong protests, new figures reveal

On Saturday, she could take a bus from University station to work as usual, and hoped she would not be disrupted again.

“I think all Hongkongers want no further destruction to the MTR,” she said.

But a university student, surnamed Leung, on his way to campus in Tai Po from Tseung Kwan O, said he was not hit hard by the closure.

An MTR worker uses a board to display a train’s destination, because display screens still have not been fixed. Photo: Winson Wong

“The effect of the closure was not huge. I could have taken other transport,” the 24-year-old said. Leung also said he was dissatisfied with the MTR Corp’s performance during the months-long protests.

The rail operator has become a lightning rod for demonstrators’ fury during the more than half a year of unrest, protesters accusing it of colluding with police during the force’s clearance operations.

“Unless it is necessary, I don’t take the MTR,” Leung said.

A sales worker in his 30s also said he did not mind the closure, as he had other means of getting to work.

This article Hong Kong’s protest-hit University MTR station reopens after five weeks first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2019.