Hong Kong MTR

Boost access to Hong Kong’s Happy Valley with underground train line, says district council chairman

Suggestion to link up area with Hong Kong Island MTR system comes as government launches study on using below-ground spaces

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 8:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 8:01am

A driverless, underground train line connecting Happy Valley to the Hong Kong Island MTR system would help improve the area’s connectivity, the chairman of Wan Chai District Council suggested, as the government launched a pilot study on utilising the city’s below-ground spaces.

The three-month public engagement on the study will be focused on the built-up areas of Tsim Sha Tsui West, Causeway Bay, Happy Valley and Admiralty-Wan Chai.

Wan Chai District Council chairman Ng Kam-chun said in a council meeting with study consultants and government officials on Tuesday that the study could provide an opportunity to solve Happy Valley’s connectivity problem. The area currently has only Wong Nai Chung Road as its main access link, with few public transport choices.

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Ng suggested that the government consider a driverless train line – similar to the international airport’s internal train system – which would link up the area with the Causeway Bay MTR station.

“Some experienced insiders told me that the cost of such a line would not be too expensive – at about HK$1 billion,” Ng said.

Dr Eunice Mak Hoi-cheung, who was representing Aecom, the government’s consultancy firm on the study, said the consultancy team had considered such a system. “We have not ruled out this option,” she said.

But she also pointed out some difficulties, such as whether there would be enough space for a train line given that there were many pipes underground.

The consultation paper on the study targeted the spaces below Kowloon Park in Tsim Sha Tsui, Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, the race course in Happy Valley and Southorn Playground in Wan Chai.

But councillor Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying was worried that developing underground shopping facilities would bring more people and traffic into the already crowded areas of Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. She urged the consultants to give a detailed plan on how much of the underground spaces would be used for commercial facilities.

Consultants said that the priority was to improve connectivity and ease ground-level traffic, citing as an example a proposal to reserve parking spaces under Victoria Park and build a tunnel to divert traffic. They said they had not finalised a detailed plan about the distribution of commercial spaces.

Other councillors also suggested moving some undesirable facilities such as refuse transfer stations underground to make the ground level more pleasant for pedestrians.