Hong Kong MTR

Budget for high-speed railway rises to HK$71 billion after delays, MTRC says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 7:35pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

The price tag for the troubled cross-border express railway will go up by about 10 per cent to HK$71.52 billion after a two-year delay to the project, according to the latest estimate by the MTR Corporation.

And the rail giant says it cannot rule out further increases.

The estimate comes after the MTR Corp disclosed in April that the link, originally due to open next year, had been delayed to 2017 partly due to difficult site conditions.

"The latest estimate of the [rail project] is HK$71.52 billion," it said in a statement yesterday.

"This figure is based on a detailed review of the revised programme for completion of the [rail link] in 2017 incorporating a range of scenario planning and taking into account various factors including the need for additional manpower, contractor resources and potential future events such as unforeseen site conditions."

The corporation, which was entrusted by the government in 2010 with building the 26km underground railway, would not discuss whether the government or the company should pay the extra cost.

The latest estimate was smaller than the HK$80 billion cited earlier by lawmaker and chairman of the Legislative Council railways subcommittee, Michael Tien Puk-sun.

The Transport and Housing Bureau said the government could claim general damages from the corporation for its failure to deliver the project on time.

An MTR Corp spokesman said yesterday that while it could not rule out further increases, it would "monitor and control costs and keep expenditure to the minimum necessary".

In response, the bureau said the government had asked the company to provide more information to justify its estimate.

NeoDemocrats legislator Gary Fan Kwok-wai said the MTR Corp should foot the extra cost. Democrat Wu Chi-wai said the legislature should look into the responsibility of the company and government for the delay.