New Territories rail link to force 7,000 from homes
ALISON SMITH and Billy Wong Wai-yuk
At least 7,000 people will be forced out of their homes to make way for a new rail system serving the western New Territories.
A public housing estate, a temporary housing area comprising 1,800 homes and 600 village houses will be razed between the northwest New Territories and urban Kowloon.
Another 40 public facilities will also be demolished, according to route details published yesterday for Phase One of the West Rail system.
Land and building owners will receive cash from a $7 billion compensation fund, while the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation and the Regional Council are discussing how to replace lost facilities.
Residents of the San Fat Estate in Tuen Mun and the Hing Shing Temporary Housing Area in Tsuen Wan are worried by the prospect of being moved far from their homes.
'How could the Housing Department resettle 7,000 people all in the same district?' asked Wong Po-hong, who lives in the temporary housing area.
The rail link's 30.5-kilometre first phase will connect West Kowloon near Yen Chow Street with Tuen Mun along an electrified track linking nine passenger stations.
The project programme schedules completion to Yuen Long by the end of 2002 and to Tuen Mun by September 2003.
West Rail spokesman Siu Kam-hang said all regional facilities lost to development would be replaced. However, just how long it would take to do so was still to be discussed.
'We are building a railway, and obviously we will touch on some existing facilities,' he said.
'But if we hit a toilet provided by the Regional Council, we will relocate it somewhere else in the area.' He said the corporation would ensure all objections to the route were given a fair hearing.
Construction is scheduled to start at the end of next year.