Express railway bound to bust budget, independent MTR director says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 5:44am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 5:44am

The high-speed cross-border railway "must cost more than the budget" of HK$67 billion, an independent director of the MTR said.

The comment from Professor Frederick Ma Si-hang, who chaired an internal investigation into delays in completing the line, came after lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun quoted MTR sources as saying the cost would jump to HK$80 billion from the approved HK$67 billion.

The MTR has announced completion of the cross-border line will be delayed by two years till 2017 because of difficulties with work on the West Kowloon Terminus and at the border. It also blamed storm damage to a tunnel boring machine.

Ma said yesterday that the MTR had submitted an estimate to the government, but he refused to reveal the amount. .

"It must cost more than what was granted," he said, noting the project was government-funded.

The Transport and Housing Bureau said that, by March 31, the MTR had received 611 valid claims from contractors for additional work, totalling about HK$10.7 billion.

Ma said the MTR was experienced in dealing with claims, and had good relationships with the contractors.

"The original budget hasn't been used up yet, but as it gets closer to 2017, the matters have to be solved as soon as possible. From the political point of view, it could be difficult to request further funding from the Legislative Council, but the [railway] is important to Hongkongers."

Tien said the HK$80 billion estimation was optimistic.