Cheaper rail link a must, say academics

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 November, 2009, 12:00am

A group of 70 academics has urged the government to rethink its HK$65.2 billion plan to build a cross-border express rail link.

They said in a joint statement that the plan, involving the construction of a terminus in West Kowloon, was too expensive and should not be rushed through.

'Due consideration must be given to the cost-effectiveness of the project,' they said. 'The government's suggestion to locate the express rail link terminus in West Kowloon is the main cause for the surge in construction costs.'

The academics include Kuan Hsin-chi, professor of public administration at Chinese University and Civic Party chairman; Ng Chun-hung, associate professor of sociology at University of Hong Kong; and Mak Hoi-wah, assistant professor of social work at City University.

They said the government's plan to build part of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link had aroused concerns about the difficulty in interchange, traffic jams, waste of land resources and higher property prices.

'People in the streets would be worried that the West Kowloon terminus option may trigger further escalation of property prices in urban areas,' they said.

They asked the government to consider an alternative plan set out by a group of people known as the Express Rail Link Expert Group, whose option might be tens of billions of Hong Kong dollars cheaper than the government's plan.

Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, a lecturer in applied social sciences at Polytechnic University, said a huge amount of public money saved by ditching the West Kowloon option could be used to address poverty, livelihood and educational issues.