Residents of Shouson Hill and Sham Wan Towers will start a campaign this week to persuade their Southern District neighbourhood to back them on a proposal that would put the entire South Island Line underground.
Designing Hong Kong, a group that has been helping the residents, filed an objection with the government against the MTR Corporation's design under which a section of the link between Nam Fung Road and Ap Lei Chau would be built as a viaduct.
A residents' group plans to send petition letters to every household in the district's major estates including South Horizons, Aberdeen Centre and Lei Tung Estate this week, urging them to also file complaints before the objection period ends on September 22.
Nelson Yeung, convenor of the residents' group, said that building the seven-kilometre extension that links South Horizons to Admiralty above-ground would not only spoil the district's scenery - especially the nearby nullah that is home to hundreds of egrets - but also bring noise and nuisance to the many who live near the rail line. That includes a hostel that caters for autistic and mentally ill people.
The arguments were put to MTR Corp and the government two years ago when the project was first approved by the Executive Council. Most of the residents and their respective district councillors had already given up hope after the MTR Corp said that changes would delay completion - scheduled for 2015 - by three years and add another HK$2 billion to the budget.
Moving the rail section underground would also mean closure of up to two-thirds of the Aberdeen Channel - an important passage for fishermen and a shelter for cruise boats - for three years. It would also require much larger-scale excavation in Wong Chuk Hang and push the new Wong Chuk Hang and Ocean Park stations deep underground.
But Yeung said the pain would be temporary. 'There may be much nuisance during the construction period but, building it above ground, the nuisance will be permanent.'
Paul Zimmerman, of Designing Hong Kong, said an above-ground Wong Chuk Hang station meant it was likely that the planned western part of the South Island Line would also have to be on a viaduct.
Their views, however, were backed by only two of the 21 Southern District councillors in a special meeting last Thursday.
Lam Kai-fai, a Southern District councillor whose constituency includes Lei Tung Estate, said he would be surprised if the new campaign changed anything.
'The people they are trying to persuade are those who actually travel to work by MTR. Three years of delay means a lot of inconvenience, but I bet many residents in Shouson Hill and Sham Wan Towers drive to work,' he said.
The budget for the 7km South Island Line is HK$7 billion
The MTR Corp says this is how much would be added to the budget, in Hong Kong dollars, to put the entire line underground: $2b