• Tue
  • Sep 2, 2014
  • Updated: 9:05am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 April, 2014, 3:47am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 April, 2014, 3:47am

Pressure on MTR over delay in high-speed-rail line's completion

Poor MTR. Everyone is upset with the unexpected massive delay to the much-heralded HK$67 billion high-speed railway linking Hong Kong with Guangzhou.

Given the repeated delays that have plagued the entire Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong rail project in the last decade, you would have thought their mainland counterparts would show more sympathy. Apparently not. Not that the MTR deserves any. Serious questions should now be raised about whether the original 2014-2015 scheduled opening was a realistic technical deadline or a "political" deadline because of real or perceived pressure on Hong Kong to match key rail segments on the mainland.

Shenzhen officials have complained about the two-year delay for the Hong Kong section, which will not open until 2017. But at least their criticism is more circumspect.

Mainland government advisers were more blunt. It's basically all Hong Kong's fault now. "All sections of the key infrastructure projects must be completed and connected synchronously. If one part gets delayed, the whole plan will be affected," a Guangzhou government policy adviser said.

The Guangzhou-Zhuhai and Guangzhou-Shenzhen North segments have both suffered significant delays. Zhuhai railway station delayed opening for at least six months, until the end of 2012. Another mainland adviser complained about the low number of passengers using the Guangzhou-Shenzhen line: "Would the Hong Kong government take responsibility for the poor return of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen express railway?"

Humm, could it be that the Guangzhou line currently only extends to the north of Shenzhen, thereby giving little incentive for passengers to use the line? Now, when the line extends all the way to the Futian district in the centre of Shenzhen, many more people will use it. Indeed, the Futian station is expected to open later this year, a delay of, shall we say, roughly about two years?

Just as pre-1997 officials such as then chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang put undue pressure on the Chek Lap Kok airport to open on time, contributing to the debacle of its launch, we should know whether similar pressure, real or perceived, is being put on the MTR.

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This article is now closed to comments

XYZ
If the MTR and the HK government had shown more backbone at the outset of this ill-conceived boondoggle then they wouldn't find themselves in their current predicament. They're only getting what they deserve.
r6b
A very perceptive commentary
hakyan85
At last, the real questions have been asked. Will Legco raise the same issues or will they simply join the pack in attacking the MTR. .
All other commentators have assumed there is a delay and want to know why. But was there? The sloth-like HK Government seems to have pushed this project through with unusual haste. So did they also set the target date or was it set in Beijing. What did the MTR's own feasibility study say. More to the point, will we ever know.
 
 
 
 
 

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