Bridge to Kwun Tong 'preferred option' in East Kowloon monorail plans

Hongkongers to weigh up ‘favoured option’ against the idea of travelling via Kowloon Bay

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 October, 2013, 4:08am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 October, 2013, 4:08am

The city would be better off building a bridge between the old Kai Tak airport runway and Kwun Tong for its planned monorail system rather than making use of an existing taxiway that would take passengers via Kowloon Bay before heading to Kwun Tong.

Both ideas for the East Kowloon monorail involve crossing water, but the first is described as the "recommended option" in the government's second stage of consultation, which was launched yesterday.

The monorail is to run through the old Kai Tak airport runway, Kwun Tong, Kowloon Bay and part of Kowloon City, with about 10 stations along the way. The area is being dubbed the city's next Central.

The project is controversial because of its high cost - estimated at HK$12 billion - and the government's failure to consider other ideas, such as one presented in April by French operator Veolia Transport, which runs the Hongkong Tramways.

Veolia suggested building a tram system that included the taxiway at a cost of HK$2.8 billion - less than a quarter of the monorail estimate.

It argued that this would also eliminate the need for a new bridge at the tip of the runway that could block ships with high-masted ships from entering the Kwun Tong typhoon shelter.

At the consultation launch yesterday, the government left out the tramway proposal but said it recognised the advantage of employing the old taxiway.

Bridging the runway tip with Kwun Tong, however, had a "clear edge" over that option, despite the hefty budget, it said.

Both ideas would end up costing about the same because the taxiway idea would require more stops to be built, said Sorais Lee Kwan Siu-kuen, head of the Kai Tak Office under the Civil Engineering and Development Department.

The taxiway route, by going through Kowloon Bay, would take longer to reach Kwun Tong. And it was likely to overload the Kowloon Bay train station since it would then use that as the interchange between the monorail and the MTR network, Lee said.

Introducing more train movements in Kowloon Bay might disturb delicate equipment at a future hospital there, she added.

The department also announced changing the locations of two monorail stops, from Kai Ching Estate to the Kowloon Bay business area on Kai Cheung Road, and from Wang Kwong Road to shopping mall MegaBox.

Lee said the new arrangements would better serve the Kowloon Bay business area, now underserved by rail transport.

Officers are also thinking of using the typhoon shelter for sports, and assessing the number of high-masted ships that will be affected by the proposed bridge.

The monorail is expected to be rolled out in 2023, serving 200,000 passengers daily by 2031.