Establish new airport support town in Tuen Mun
CHRIS Patten has been calling for sensible suggestions to make the building of the new airport cheaper.
Most of the suggestions made so far have been to move the airport itself to somewhere else, such as expanding Kai Tak or using Shenzhen Airport. It would be impractical to abandon Chek Lap Kok to build the airport somewhere else. A lot of money has already been put into preparing Chek Lap Kok and if it was abandoned in favour of somewhere else, this would, in effect, be throwing this money away.
It is unlikely that savings created by building the airport somewhere else would offset the loss caused by throwing away Chek Lap Kok. The time for suggesting an alternative site was five years ago, before any construction work actually started.
However, instead of building the airport support town at Tung Chung, use could be made of Tuen Mun. Tun Mun is only about 15 minutes' ferry ride from Chek Lap Kok. There are already all the major utilities and services present.
True, transport links would need to be upgraded, but they are already there. It would be much easier to upgrade Route 2 and extend the Tsuen Wan MTR line than it would be to build new facilities from scratch. Also, Route 2 and the MTR extension are projects that have to be built anyway, whether there's a new airport or not. Building most of the airport support town at Tuen Mun instead of Tung Chung would save a considerable amount of money without the problem of having to abandon work that has already hadlots of money spent on it.
What I am suggesting does not mean that there shouldn't be a railway to Chek Lap Kok. No-one in their right mind wants to get off an aeroplane with lots of luggage and then have to struggle on to a bus. When I first came to Hongkong, I couldn't believe that there was no airport station at Kai Tak. By all means, the bus companies can provide bus services, but not as an alternative to the railway. I can guarantee, though, that most people will let the train take the strain.
Also, if the MTR wants to save money by not building all of the railway, it should learn from the example of the KCR. When the KCR was first built, all facilities were built for a double-track line, even though only a single track was laid. This made it much easier when the line was doubled, as tunnels, etc, did not need to be re-built. This suggestion is more sensible than most of the ones recently put forward, and I look forward to the Government's and the Provisional Airport Authority's responses.
J. G. HARSTON Kowloon