From Sydney to Stockholm, governments looking for help with their rail systems turn to Hong Kong's MTR Corp., renowned for its speedy, clean and reliable commuter trains.

That polished image is now tarnished, with months of unrest having frequently boiled into violence and vandalism on Hong Kong's subway.

MTR facilities have looked more like battlefields on some weekends. Protesters have smashed windows and set fires blazing outside stations. Police have fired pepper spray, and been seen beating people aboard trains. Black-clad activists have protested at MTR-owned shopping centers and obstructed services on the network, which has more than 90 stations.