UNREST could be brewing at that paragon among metro operators, Hong Kong MTR Corp. A bill to privatise the company is due to be tabled before the Legislative Council on October 13. Acting Secretary for Transport Kevin Ho Chi-ming said on July 28 that the government hoped to pass the legislation as soon as possible, and MTRC is preparing for the change.

On July 30 MTRC announced details of a Staff Voluntary Separation Scheme for all 8400 employees. ’As a prudent organisation, the Corporation is always looking for ways to save costs and to increase productivity’, said the statement. MTRC’s financial performance has been hit by fewer than expected passengers on the Airport Express service because of ferocious competition from buses, and there are reports of luxury buses capturing traffic from the metro too. Profits last year amounted to HK$2·8bn, but the results were coupled with a statement that the corporation needed to save HK$600m this year.