HK$71b for Sha Tin line finally gets the nod
Work on the Sha Tin to Central Link, a new MTR line, will begin within months after lawmakers yesterday approved HK$71.4 billion in funding for its construction.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng said the tendering process was almost complete and the 17-kilometre route, which will cost HK$79.8 billion - twice the estimate when the project was approved in 2008 - could still be completed on schedule.
The project was delayed for eight months by a legal challenge to environmental impact assessment of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which put all other environmental impact reports in limbo.
'The lawsuit ... caused an eight- month delay but we managed to catch up and can start work in the middle of the year,' Cheng told the Legislative Council's Finance Committee.
The link was first proposed in 2000 but repeatedly delayed until the Executive Council approved it in 2008. Despite its name, it will run from Tai Wai to Hung Hom via Diamond Hill, from where another line will run under the harbour to Admiralty. It is expected to carry 1.1 million passengers a day in its first year of operation.
The Tai Wai to Hung Hom stretch is due for completion by 2018, while the cross-harbour stretch from Hung Hom to Admiralty will open in 2020.
The line, which is intended to ease congestion on the roads and has widespread support, but there has long been controversy about its cost, especially after the revelation that the MTR Corporation would charge a HK$6.1 billion management fee for the line's construction.
Meanwhile, three unions representing MTR staff will start collecting members' views on possible industrial action if the corporation does not give them a 10 per cent pay rise. The unions say the increase is reasonable because pay rises in previous years have lagged behind inflation by a total of 4.7 per cent. A 10 per cent rise, with inflation at 4 per cent, would correct this, they say.