Terminus buries roads to link with district

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 August, 2010, 12:00am

Pedestrians are a major beneficiary of the MTR Corp's plan for the multibillion-dollar West Kowloon terminus of the Hong Kong-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which it unveiled yesterday and which will go to public tender before the end of the year.

The plan calls for roads that separate the terminus from the West Kowloon Cultural District, such as Austin Road, to be put underground, allowing pedestrians to walk to the cultural district without impediment.

Yet inbound travellers wanting to catch a train to Central will have to walk for about 10 minutes in the open to Kowloon station, although the walk to Austin station for connections elsewhere will take only about two minutes.

A large piazza planted with vegetation will front the western exit and part of it will be designated for public performances.

The MTR's general manager for the high-speed link, Paul Lo Po-hing, said the station would be a landmark.

'It will be a place for people to spend their leisure time, to relax, and to enjoy the green features and open areas with their friends and family,' he said.

Most of the 11-hectare terminus, the final stop on a national high-speed rail network that will extend to Beijing, Shanghai and beyond, will be underground. It will rise about 15 metres above ground - about five floors of a residential building - with four of its five storeys burrowing 20 metres below ground.

The building will form an archway over which pedestrians will be able to walk. The highest point will provide a view across the cultural district.

Lo said that as well as glass ceilings, which will allow sunlight to penetrate two floors underground, the terminus would use other energy-saving features, such as seawater cooling plants for air conditioning and a rainwater harvesting system.

Preparatory work on the station, which began in January, precedes work on the West Kowloon Cultural District, plans for which will be released on Friday. But an MTR spokeswoman said the terminus design factored in flexibility for future integration with the cultural district.

Options were available in the terminus and Austin station for possible subways linking to other buildings, while space had been set aside to allow mainland and Hong Kong immigration clearances to be carried out on the same floor.

Yau Tsim Mong District Council chairman Edmond Chung Kong-mo said the design was better than he had expected.

'The terminus looks bright and spacious, and the greening features extend all the way to Yau Ma Tei,' he said. 'I think residents in the neighbourhood will welcome it.'

About three hectares of the public space around the terminus will be covered in vegetation.

However, it is not known whether the public will be allowed to walk on the grass.

An engineer opposed to the project, Civic Party member Albert Lai Kwong-tak, said there was still much concern in the community about the connection between the terminus and its neighbourhood.

Tip of the iceberg

The bulk of the terminus - four of its five floors - will be underground

The building will stand the equivalent of a five-storey residential building above ground - a height, in metres, of: 15