Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge

HK-Zhuhai-Macau bridge offers a poor transport alternative

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 September, 2010, 12:00am

I refer to the letter ('US$1b light railway up and running in Macau by 2014', September 17).

According to Michael Lam Soi-hoi, a transport infrastructure consultant, Macau will have at least two Phase 1 light rail stations that will connect to the Guangzhou-Zhuhai Railway.

He said this would create a 'one-hour travel radius connecting Macau, Guangzhou and Hong Kong', with Phase II including a link to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

However, it was not explained how passengers from Macau's new rail system will travel onwards to Hong Kong within one hour, as there is no provision for a railway across the bridge. Non-Macau private cars will be banned from entering the city; presumably the light railway will serve a large parking area for out-of-town cars at the western extremity of the bridge.

Passengers from the light railway will then have to transfer to private cars or shuttle buses for onward travel to Hong Kong.

With a likely speed limit of 100km/h (for obvious safety reasons) on the 50-kilometre-long bridge, it will be impossible for anyone travelling from Macau to Hong Kong to reach Central within one hour, especially considering congestion at the immigration control areas and toll booths.

It therefore appears that the bridge will provide a poor transport alternative when compared to the existing hydrofoil services, which already have direct connections from Macau to Kowloon and Central in less than one hour.

Can the bridge still be justified on a highway-only basis?

If the bridge planners took the initiative to look well beyond the 2016 opening, they would see that inter-city travel in southern Guangdong will increasingly be made by rail.

High-speed train services will operate north to Beijing and Wuhan (via Guangzhou) and east to Shanghai, but there will be a critical void in the rail network west of Hong Kong, which should provide a connection to Zhuhai and the western Pearl River Delta.

It is therefore totally unacceptable that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is being designed without provision for a railway.

Trains could travel at a speed in excess of 160km/h, depending on the alignment, and would provide a far superior service across the bridge compared to that available using the highway-only option as well as being more environmentally friendly.

A night rail freight service might also be feasible, operating at a lower speed.

M. I. Baxter, Tuen Mun