Up to eight runs could be axed as passengers switch to the train service Nearly one-tenth of the franchised bus routes linking the northwestern New Territories and the urban area may be axed after the West Rail opens this month, the Transport Department revealed yesterday. The department and the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation expects one-fifth of bus passengers to switch to the West Rail services in one of the biggest regional transport reshuffles in recent years. The KCRC is expected to announce the West Rail's opening date after tomorrow's board meeting. The West Rail, which is initially expected to carry 200,000 people a day, will link Yuen Long and Tuen Mun with Shamshuipo, reducing the journey to less than 30 minutes. It will compete against franchised bus operators, including Kowloon Motor Bus, New World First Bus and Citybus, which operate 70 routes. About six to eight of the routes may be axed, pending the change in passenger demand after the rail service opens. Franchised buses carried 600,000 people daily to and from the region, accounting for more than 90 per cent of traffic, the department said. It said 30 franchised bus and 40 green minibus routes would also be modified. Most will either be re-routed, extended or have their terminus moved to the rail station's transport interchanges while some will be cancelled. Two new bus routes will also be introduced. All the changes, which have passed through public consultation at district level, will be implemented within six months. Changes will start one week before the rail opening. But if routes are discontinued they will be axed two weeks after the rail's opening. Commuters will be notified of the changes on notices at bus stops, bus shelters and terminuses. Rail fares will be between $4.30 and $16. To lure more rail commuters, interchange passengers will be offered discounts of 30 cents to $1.50 on 30 minibus and franchised bus routes. Assistant Commissioner of Transport Peter Luk Yu-kwan yesterday said traffic confusion similar to the Tseung Kwan O MTR extension opening last year and Light Rail services reshuffle this week is not likely to be repeated. 'We are not talking about route changes like the Light Rail. The new rail will add more passenger capacity by 80 per cent while no bus routes will be cut in the first two weeks ... people will take time to adapt. Learning from past experience, contingency measures will be in place in case of any emergency,' Mr Luk said. About 300,000 booklets on the public transport reshuffle have been mailed to the region's households. Commuters can check the proposed changes at www.info.gov.hk/td .