High-speed Guangzhou train may cost more than existing link

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 September, 2009, 12:00am

Passengers might have to pay more to ride on the planned high-speed Hong Kong-to-Guangzhou rail link than on the existing through train, a senior official said.

But the government would not seek to quickly recover the cost of the HK$39.5 billion it will spend on the Hong Kong leg of the planned Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express railway, Undersecretary for Transport and Housing Yau Shing-mu said.

Speaking on an RTHK programme, Yau said the planned new railway would alleviate heavy passenger traffic on the East Rail, which carried about 220,000 travellers to Lo Wu daily. The link would also connect Hong Kong to the high-speed and high-frequency inter-city network on the mainland, he said.

The Transport and Housing Bureau has projected that 99,000 passengers would use the planned new link daily in 2016. The new rail link will halve travelling time to Guangzhou to 48 minutes.

'The express rail is going to be more convenient than the current MTR through-train service [which costs HK$190 per trip],' he said. 'It may charge a higher fare - but a final decision has not been made yet.'

Yau said officials aimed to operate a competitive rail link and attract passengers to the new service.

Concerns have been aired that construction of the planned new express link will cost much more than originally budgeted. Government engineers said some time ago the cost could top HK$60 billion. Yau would not reveal the latest cost estimates but admitted that they might be higher than originally envisaged.