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  • Nov 28, 2014
  • Updated: 8:45am
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TRANSPORT

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
 

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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

 


Railroaded

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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20

This article is now closed to comments

rpasea
Well, the whole idea of a high speed railway underground thru dense urban areas was on the crazy side to say the least. A much better arrangement would have been an above ground line terminating at T2 of the HK airport, away from urban areas but still with a direct connection to a local transport hub. This white elephant will be just another of Donald's disastrous legacy. 2 years and many billions of dollars more....
r6b
I do use the high speed rail system in China, and the system is being very well used.
The Shenzhen - Guangzhou trains depart every 15 minutes with high % occupancy.
Likewise, the Guangzhou-Zhuhai/Jiangmen line is sometimes 100% full, with only standing room available.
The latest line to open from Guangzhou South to Shenzhen North, is now
increasing train frequency to cope with increased demands.
Given the very high numbers of travellers at the major land ports of Shenzhen Bay, Futian and Huanggang, my feeling is that the new rail line will become very popular very quickly.
Lastly, there are many HK office workers who split their time between HK and Guangdong.
HK workers at factories from Shenzhen North to Gongming and Humen, will greatly benefit from HRS.
Shadow
SAR now only have incompetent and liar officials .corruption is rising day by day ,this corrupt officials bubble will blast sooner or later
hodfords
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...
andreaswagner
This whole express rail link was a white elephant from the start. Nobody needs it. So, it is delayed now? Who actually cares???
chuchu59
Maybe not corruption but these misfits are using all methods of cover up but getting nowhere after bumbling again and again. I have personally been on the receiving end of some blatant cover-ups and the people involved are very high-ranking officials. These guys are both incompetent and serial liars.
honger
SCMP, pls remove and ban this poster as the avatar is a racist slur.
chuchu59
These guys must have been performing a rain dance and the thunderstorm provided them with the perfect excuse to announce the delay. It does seem there would have been a delay anyway. This stinks.
Carparklee
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....
pluinbs@gmail.com
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?

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