The government is expected to overcome its first hurdle today on the funding of the HK$65.2 billion cross-border express - but only narrowly. With legislators from the Democratic Party and Civic Party determined to vote against the project in today's public works subcommittee meeting, and with project supporter Abraham Razack likely to be absent because of illness, the government has secured 12 votes of 23 members, excluding Razack and subcommittee chairman Raymond Ho Chung-tai, who can only vote in a tie-breaker. Nine lawmakers have said they will vote against the plan. Independent Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and medical sector representative Leung Ka-lau would not disclose their intentions yesterday, but even if both vote against the project, the supporters will still lead by one. Community groups were making last-ditch efforts yesterday to stop the subcommittee from approving the funding. Academics from the Professional Commons group - which has called for the terminus to be moved from West Kowloon to Kam Sheung Road, saying it would save billions - continued to challenge the project's value and efficiency at a conference. Meanwhile, another urban development concern group wrote to the Legislative Council yesterday, calling on three pro-government lawmakers to refrain from today's vote. Icarus Wong Ho-yin of People Planning in Action said Ho, Razack and Heung Yee Kuk lawmaker Lau Wong-fat should not be allowed to vote as they appeared to have conflicts of interest. Ho is a non-executive director of China State Construction International Holdings, which has said it wants to bid for contracts for the rail link. Razack is a non-executive director for the project's future operator, MTR Corp, and NWS Holdings - a subsidiary of which was recently awarded an HK$11 million contract of the high-speed railway. Wong said Lau, a huge owner of New Territories land, should declare whether he would receive any money from government compensation for property used for the project. But the challenge is unlikely to make any difference as Ho is not required to vote unless the voting is tied, Razack might not be able to attend, and Lau cannot be made to refrain even if he does have an interest in the project.