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  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 12:12pm
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong to Guangzhou express rail link facing delay of up to 2 years, says MTR

MTR chiefs heading HK$67 billion project blame damage to tunnel boring machine and problems at West Kowloon terminus

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 4:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2014, 8:53am


  • Yes: 80%
  • No: 20%
16 Apr 2014
  • Yes
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Total number of votes recorded: 352

The much-heralded HK$67 billion high-speed railway linking Hong Kong with Guangzhou - the most expensive ever built per kilometre - has been delayed by up to two years due to "unforeseen difficulties".

MTR chiefs yesterday blamed the delay - which could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars - on damage to a tunnel boring machine suffered during last month's heavy rain and problems with the construction of the West Kowloon terminus at the Hong Kong end of the 26-kilometre underground link.

We are very sorry to have to bring forth this revised schedule
MTR's Chew Tai-chong

Transport secretary Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung - an MTR board member - insisted he only learned of the extent of the delay at the weekend and was "totally caught by surprise".

The MTR said the delays meant construction would not be finished until 2016, with services starting in 2017. When announced, the project was to be finished next year.

Last night, critics attacked the MTR and the government for a lack of transparency.

MTR network projects director Chew Tai-chong said last month's storm had flooded a construction site near Tsat Sing Kong and Tai Kong Po in Yuen Long. The tunnel boring machine was seriously damaged and an investigation was looking into whether to repair it or to excavate the remaining tunnel by other means. Either way, construction of that part of the project would be prolonged by nine months, Chew said.

"We recognise the government has entrusted the management of this project to us and we are very sorry to have to bring forth this revised schedule," he said.

Chew said the MTR had spent two weeks pumping water from the tunnel, and had realised the extent of the problem only recently. He also attributed the delay to complicated conditions at West Kowloon and complex geology at the cross-border section beneath a protected wetland.

Antonio Choi Fung-chung, MTR general manager for the project, said it had been difficult for contractors to survey ground conditions at the terminus before construction started because of the facilities - such as a golf driving range - in the area, and busy traffic on Jordan Road. That, together with the many underground cables, had contributed to many unforeseen situations.

The MTR refused to disclose the length of the construction delay at the terminus or the extra costs. Choi and Chew said only that the additional costs would be covered by a HK$4.4 billion contingency fund. There was also no full explanation of the delay beyond the nine months caused by the damaged boring machine.

Hints of a delay emerged in recent months, with officials changing their line to saying the project would be completed next year and would open in 2016.

Cheung said that at the end of last year, the MTR was still telling the government the line would open in 2015.

"Obviously I felt very disappointed and deeply concerned about the delay," he said.

Additional reporting by Gary Cheung



Construction started in January 2010; initial completion date was next year; now delayed by as much as two years

26-kilometre underground line with a new West Kowloon terminus

HK$67 billion project has a HK$4.4 billion contingency fund built in for 'unforeseeable situations'



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This article is now closed to comments

MTRC is a private company with share holders but the government is the major shareholder.
A glitch that calls for a delay and extra expanse, I would like to know how the government is to reconcile between the interests of private and public it represents simultaneously.
MTRC is a convoluted setup aiming to make money rather than providing public services at its best. Probably it is managed by a bunch of businessmen like a property developer.
Take a look on other subway construction delay case such as the Marmaray (in Turkey). Well planned project by a famous Japanese subway construction firm still ended up in 4 years delay due to total damage of TBM and having to purchase a redesigned TBM....
A blessing in disguise for HK
No wonder, HK cannot compete with Singapore in terms public sector efficiency!
If a CEO in private sector review that kind of incredulous news, guess what's gone happen to him?
Might want to check spelling on reveal.
Honestly...it'll mean less people for 2 more years...sounds good
How About
Hear hear!
One of the main worry is that when MTR wants bailing out like this time they ask the HK taxpayer to foot the bill, under the transportation arm. When all of the MTR properties along the lines are raking in billions in a few years time, under the property arm, will they (a) repay the HK treasury the amount in full + interest or more likely (b) privatise and spin off MTR Property and then put the money into their 'shareholders'?
And oh in the new company, there'll be at least another 30 'consulting' positions for the current crop of civil servants and ministers when they retire.
Fewer mainland visitors to Hong Kong? Could be a silver lining....
Whilst we are on the topic of transport. Here are the reasons why we do not need a 3rd runway and also be aware of the massive scam that is being tabled that nobody is talking about:-
Frankfurt built (i) an entire airport terminal and (ii) a runway in 2010 for 4 Billion Euros (~HK$ 40 Billion); the minimum wage there at the time was €10.70/hour (HK$116/hour) which is more than 4 times that of Hong Kong’s minimum wage (HK$28/hour).
In 2011, the fees quoted for just one runway is HK$ 136 billion - which is more than 3 times what Frankfurt paid for their airport terminal and a runway.... I understand that this 3rd runway will require some land reclamation but with massively lower labour costs and a much smaller project spec. Why are the fees so ridiculously high.
Moreover, Hong Kong has too many travellers as it is; we do not need anymore..... Let Guangzhou or Shenzhen become the new hub for transits/travellers... it's not a competition that we want to get into...
How About
Delay in construction is very common but in most cases it's the contractors and their insurers who end up footing the bills. When MTR needs to do a big song-n-dance about weather and ground conditions you know they are part of the problem, and the delay.
Couldn't MTR issue bond for the extra financing they need?
And for any new line in Hong Kong. No more paying up in one generation.
This whole express rail link was a white elephant from the start. Nobody needs it. So, it is delayed now? Who actually cares???




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