More trouble for Sha Tin-Central MTR link as handover of Wan Chai site delayed
Pipe pile discovered means design has to be revised, but Transport Undersecretary assures Legco that section completion date unaffected
Construction on the HK$79.8-billion Sha Tin to Central rail link might be further hindered after it was revealed on Friday that an unexpected technical problem at a Wan Chai site resulted in a handover delay.
Speaking to the Legislative Council’s subcommittee on railway matters, Undersecretary for Transport and Housing Yau Shing-mu, however, insisted the setback on the site transfer would not affect the completion target of 2021 for the link’s Hong Kong Island section.
The stretch lies between Wan Chai North and Admiralty, including Exhibition Station.
“The MTR Corporation’s teams will find ways to catch up on progress,” Yau assured lawmakers.
The Tai Wai to Hung Hom segment of the link, which faced repeated delays, can also be completed by mid-2019 – six months ahead of the revised schedule.
Yau’s updates came after media reports of overrun in the controversial project’s budget, with speculation that total costs would balloon to HK$100 billion.
In its August interim report last year, MTR Corp’s chief executive officer Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen sounded the alarm about cost overruns and possible delays to the project beyond 2021.
The 17-kilometre link, comprising 10 stations, will connect existing railway lines to form east-west and north-south corridors with six interchange stations.
The MTR Corp will reveal the final cost overrun in the second half of this year – when it formally reports the findings to the government.
Yau said the government was prepared to seek funding from Legco’s Finance Committee this fiscal year to cover the extra costs.
He added that the Wan Chai site delay was caused by a discovery of an abandoned pipe pile near Fenwick Pier Street.
“As the pipe pile is deeply embedded into the ground, the wall design has to be revised to reduce the impact of the pile on scheduled construction works,” he told lawmakers.
Also, the late handover of certain critical work sites at the new Exhibition station, caused by the discovery of a military shipwreck, affected foundation works and clashed with construction of the Central-Wan Chai bypass, Yau said.
Archaeological finds at the To Kwa Wan station site earlier led to an 11-month delay in the construction of the east-west corridor and an additional cost of HK$4.1 billion.
The north-south corridor involving the Hong Kong Island section is currently 47 per cent completed.