Hong Kong MTR

No delay on disclosing delays: new MTR boss

Acting CEO minding the gap at top of rail firm also adds 600 trains to timetable

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 4:18am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 8:01am

The new man at the helm of the controversy-plagued MTR Corporation yesterday pledged to inform the public as soon as possible should there be any further delays to its ongoing rail projects.

On his first day as acting chief executive, Lincoln Leong also announced MTR would add 600 more trains a week to timetables this month - on top of 300 extra services already added this year.

All five of the MTR's projects are facing delays - the cross-border high-speed railway; the Kwun Tong line extension; the South Island line; the West Island line; and the Sha Tin-Central link.

Leong told a media gathering: "Our colleagues are working very hard to deliver these rail lines as quickly as possible. Having said that, I will add that building the metro rail system is a very big and complicated task.

"In the event that there are other circumstances that may impact on these lines, we will let you know as quickly as possible."

The MTR disclosed in April that completion of the cross-border express railway would be delayed for two years until 2017, amid accusations it had held back on the news. A broken tunnel-boring machine and difficult ground conditions at the West Kowloon terminus were blamed.

Last month, MTR said Jay Walder would step down as chief executive about a year earlier than scheduled, after an internal report criticised his "poor judgment" in handling the project.

Last week, it was announced that the price tag of the express railway would go up by about 10 per cent to HK$71.52 billion.

Leong, who has been at MTR for 12 years and was Walder's deputy, yesterday gave no guarantees the bill would not rise further. "The only thing we can guarantee is that, in the MTR, all our colleagues will work our hardest and put all our hearts and efforts into delivering all the rail lines, including the express rail lines, as quickly as possible."

General manager Philco Wong Nai-keung, who takes over from retiring Chew Tai-chong as projects director in October, said the additional costs took into consideration extra labour and "unforeseen circumstances".

As to whether Leong wanted the post permanently, he responded only that his focus was on the work to be done. It has been reported that the global search for a chief executive years ago boiled down to just two candidates: Walder and Leong.