• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:39pm
NewsHong Kong

MTR chiefs apologise over two more rail project delays

Managers from the rail operator say difficulties in site works led to the six-month delays

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 6:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 4:11am

The MTR says two more of its railway-building projects face delays, meaning that all its five projects may open late. The MTR said the Kwun Tong line extension and the South Island line would be six months late.

It cited engineering difficulties at Admiralty station and in Whampoa in explaining the delay of the two lines until 2016.

The announcement comes two months after the MTR Corp disclosed that the opening of the cross-border high-speed railway would be postponed by two years.

It also admitted that the West Island line, scheduled to open by the end of the year, and the first phase of the Sha Tin-Central link, supposed to be completed by 2018, might not meet their deadlines.

The HK$5.3 billion Kwun Tong line extension links Yau Ma Tei, Ho Man Tin and Whampoa. The HK$12.4 billion South Island line connects Admiralty to the southern part of Hong Kong Island. The MTR pays for the construction and any extra costs incurred.

MTR chief executive Jay Walder and projects director Chew Tai-chong - whose departure from the corporation was announced at the height of the row over the high-speed rail delay - took responsibility.

"I am very sorry to have disappointed [the communities] and made them wait longer," Walder said.

Chew denied the MTR had been too optimistic when it set its completion dates. But when asked later whether the assessment by the government and the MTR was inaccurate, he said: "You are not wrong in saying so."

Last month, the MTR was still saying it was confident the two lines would be open on time next year. Walder said yesterday the MTR would brief the public on the progress of its projects more regularly in future.

The Transport and Housing Bureau said it was informed of the delay last Thursday.

Mark Cuzner, project manager for the South Island line, said the team had encountered great difficulties in extending Admiralty station. Three additional levels were being built below the existing station, and the most complex part was excavation below existing lines.

The project manager for the Kwun Tong line extension, James Chow So-hung, said busy traffic and complex underground utilities at Whampoa had contributed to delays on that line.

Dr Greg Wong Chak-yan, a former president of the Institution of Engineers who worked on construction of the Admiralty station in the 1970s, said the delays were understandable. He noted that the MTR was working 40 to 50 metres underground at Admiralty and the roads in Whampoa were privately owned.

"It would actually be surprising if they said they could finish the projects on time, when we are short of labour," he said.

New People's Party lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun said the delays showed the government's monitoring was weak.

The Legislative Council will discuss the matter on Tuesday.

Chew will retire in early October. Walder will not renew his contract next year although he and the MTR said this had nothing to do with the delay in the high-speed railway.



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Yet not one person is being asked to resign! Incompetence is rewarded with continued employment, share options and membership to Sheko, Fanling and the Jockey Club!
Admiralty was always going to be a difficult site to work. The engineering here, like many other CBD projects, can only be finalized, once you are actually in the hole, and can see what really confronts
- especially attempting to add two new subway lines under existing tunnels and buildings.
As for the hoped for time-lines - This is what happens when government is more than a decade late in releasing land and funding for important infrastructure projects.
BTW - the problems MTR is encountering are identical to what was learned by government, when the mid-levels escalator was being constructed. Builders encountered many undocumented structures and services, which could only be evaluated once the ground was opened up.
Admiralty's construction issues should not have been a surprise to any government engineer.
Yes and no.
I agree with most of your comments. However, for the HK-side portion to function properly, the North Island Line (NIL) needs urgent approval. It will provide cross platform east-west connection at the new Exhibition (Wanchai) station and double the passenger capacity on HK island between Central and North Point.
Without NIL, there will be commuter gridlock on the Island Line in 6 years time.
Our impotent legislators need to get beyond TV sound bites, and get on with the job of providing first class infrastructure to HK residents.
Admiralty station, as stated above, is a tough station to build and that's why MTRC went with a target cost contract in the first place. The same can be said for the station causing problems on the West Island line. Basically the MTRC have in light of the problems they are having done a good job on these two new lines .
That's all his good for now isn't it....he's going to leave anyway...should quit instead of keep taking in that nice pay packet.
So why is Chairman Chien not taking any wrap for this latest (but expected) problem with the delay in completion?..............He has already pushed all the blame onto Walder who has no option but to leave next year, but MTR is still stuck with Chairman Chien who has absolutely no clue as to how to lead the MTR...........As long as Chien is still around, this will definitely not be the last problem MTR has to announce.
They should solely focus on the Shatin extension. That is the most important line and should have always been given priority. That is the line that will clear everything else up. Reduce traffic across Kowloon and reduce traffic on red and green lines. The long lines at Admirality will disappear. I
No official in HK understands the concept of accountability - the ones in private practice are merely adopting the stonewalling of our Mandarins who have shown the way, especially as the MTR is 70% owned by the government.


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