Second MTR manager quits high-speed rail link project
A second top manager involved in the construction of the delayed high-speed railway will leave his job before the project finishes.
The MTR Corp confirmed yesterday that Alan Myers, general manager of construction at the cross-border link's West Kowloon terminus, will not renew his contract when it ends in two weeks. The confirmation - two days after media reports about Myers' departure surfaced - followed news that the corporation's projects director, Chew Tai-chong, would leave in October, more than a year before the end of his contract.
It came as research by the South China Morning Post found that only a small part of the troubled section of the terminus area had been surveyed for underground conditions.
The MTR found rock formations at a higher level than expected and quoted it as one reason for the two-year delay in completion, until 2017.
Myers, who joined the company in May 2010, was responsible for overseeing construction at the terminus. He was previously involved in construction of the English Channel Tunnel, the Heathrow Express and a high-speed railway in Britain.
An MTR spokesman said yesterday that Myers had decided not to renew his contract at the end of last year for family reasons.
A Post study of Civil Engineering and Development Department documents found that boreholes to survey underground conditions had been drilled only in a thin strip on the western side of a former 20,000 square metre golf range on the terminus site.
In contrast, hundreds of boreholes were found in other areas of the terminus site.
Dr Greg Wong Chak-yan, a former president of the Institution of Engineers, said that because of the size of the range, surveying only the rim posed the risk of misjudging conditions.
"The MTR lacks some luck in this," he said, adding that the question now was whether it had done its best to get access to the golf range for its surveys.
The MTR said it would not comment as it was preparing reports for a Legislative Council meeting on the issue on Monday.
Lawmakers who visited the terminus this week were told there had probably been no survey of the golf-range area as the MTR was "not granted access".
The MTR is also under pressure to say when it became aware of the engineering obstacle posed by the granite formation.
Referring to reports about consultancy documents from 2009 and 2010, indicating that the MTR might have known about the problem long ago, lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun said the timing was crucial and could point to a cover-up.
"They have to come clean on the issue at the subcommittee's meeting on May 5," he said, referring to Legco's rail subcommittee, which he chairs.