MTR Corp submits new rail plan and vows to minimise disruption

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 May, 2009, 12:00am

Noise, traffic disruption and subsidence are not the only problems likely to arise when construction of the Sha Tin-Central Rail Link begins next year - even animals will have to pack their bags.

In the latest realignment plan submitted to district councillors of Sha Tin and Kowloon City yesterday, the MTR Corp proposed moving a section between To Kwa Wan and Ma Tau Wai closer to Kowloon City to serve residents of the district.

But the company said this would have a bigger impact on the East Kowloon Corridor. As the section will be built under the highway, the foundations of the flyover will need to be strengthened. Given that the area is densely populated with old tenements, the MTR Corp warned of the danger of ground subsidence.

Various parks and gardens - including Sung Wong Toi Garden opposite the luxury Sky Tower apartments - will be claimed for temporary storage of construction material and heavy machinery. More space, purportedly in Kai Tak, will be needed to house the huge amount of debris and construction waste, otherwise the rail line may not be able to open as planned by 2015 or 2016.

And as the project will also require a number of explosions, an explosives magazine is proposed to be built in Shui Chuen O - a remote area in Sha Tin. The MTR Corp expects there will be two blasts a day.

Hin Keng - the second station after the line's major intersection terminal at Tai Wai - will be an elevated station located at an animal shelter operated by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. A nearby quarantine station for plants will also have to make way.

The animals and the station will move to a space near the toll plaza of Tate's Cairn Tunnel.

To level with Tai Wai station on the Ma On Shan Rail link, the section between Tai Wai and Sha Tin will be built in the form of a viaduct. The design is expected to draw strong opposition from some residents of the Hin Keng Estate, as it will pass near two buildings on the estate.

When completed the 17km extension will not only give commuters in Ma On Shan and Sha Tin a direct rail route to Central and Admiralty, it will also link East Kowloon to the New Territories West via West Rail.

The MTR Corp said it would strive to minimise the impact of the work on the environment and valuable heritage sites such as the Longjin Bridge in Kai Tak. The corporation will consult district councillors in Kowloon City and Sha Tin today.

Wen Choy-bon, a Kowloon district councillor, said he would ask the MTR Corp whether it planned to provide makeshift playgrounds for residents. His colleague Cho Wui-hung will demand details of plans to reduce damage to the environment.