Workers killed on HK rail link

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 December, 2011, 12:00am


Two workers were killed and 14 others were buried when the steel frame of a tunnel being built for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed rail link collapsed.

Workers were reinforcing the tunnel's walls in Huanggang Park in the Futian district of Shenzhen on Thursday morning when the frame buckled, reports said.

Three of those injured were in 'serious condition', Xinhua reported yesterday. One subcontract worker from Sichuan province who fractured his pelvis in the accident said the first signs of trouble came when the lights suddenly went out and machinery stopped at around 9.30am.

'I was totally stunned when I came out [of the tunnel]. Countless steel bars shot [from] the ground like arrows,' he told Southern Metropolis News yesterday.

Wang Mengshu, a key drafter of the mainland's high-speed rail development plan, said the company responsible for the tunnel's construction - China Railway 15th Bureau Group Corp - 'was technically weak for such a complicated [project]'.

'The geological structure is exceptionally complicated because the tunnel is being built between extremely hard granite and soft, weathered soil. They have never handled anything like it before,' said Wang, also deputy chief engineer for China Railway Tunnel Group.

The express rail link, which will cut travel time from Hong Kong to Guangzhou to just under 50 minutes, has raised eyebrows due to its cost and its coming amid a string of railway accidents on the mainland.

A 26-kilometre stretch in Hong Kong has been dubbed the most expensive rail line in the world - at HK$1.52 billion per kilometre.

The section between Guangzhou and Shenzhen was scheduled to open in August, but it was postponed indefinitely after the central government ordered a nationwide inspection of high-speed rail projects following a deadly collision between two trains in Wenzhou in July.

Two workers died and seven were injured while working on the Shenzhen stretch in February last year.

A spokeswoman for the MTR Corp, responsible for the Hong Kong section, said yesterday that the firm had a good track record in construction, with tailor-made tunnel-boring machines and building methods to suit varying conditions.

Additional reporting by Anita Lam


The annual investment, in US dollars, the central government has projected for railways starting this year