Parties for and against the railway plan made last-minute efforts to sway legislators yesterday. According to a survey commissioned by the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, a think tank close to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, 70 per cent of people favour the project. Only 12 per cent were opposed. More than 700 people were interviewed recently by Lingnan University, which announced the results of the survey yesterday. Sixty-six per cent believed the legislature should approve the budget for the project as soon as possible, while 20 per cent thought it should not be rushed. More than half of the respondents believed that delaying the start would harm Hong Kong's competitiveness by slowing integration with the mainland. Forty per cent were in favour of a West Kowloon terminus, against 34 per cent who preferred a facility in the northwestern New Territories. Centre chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk said: 'Construction of the express railway should start as soon as possible so as to realise the economic benefits of the project as early as possible.' The Professional Commons, a group of experts close to the Civic Party, held a press conference to defend its cheaper counter-proposal, which features a terminus in Kam Sheung Road in the New Territories. The group also questioned the government's estimate of the economic benefits of the HK$66.9 billion project. The group reiterated that under its proposal, only 50 households would have to be relocated from an area near the Kam Tin River, and said the government was wrong in claiming that 300 households would be affected. Group spokesman Albert Lai Kwong-tak questioned the government's estimate of Hong Kong's population in 2016, 2021 and 2031, in a report supporting the plan. Lai said the government report projected 8.26 million residents in 2021, nearly half a million higher than estimates by the Planning Department and the Census and Statistics Department. 'We are not saying the figures in such a report are incorrect, but the discrepancies give rise to reasonable doubts over their accuracy,' Lai said.