Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has waded into the row over construction of the HK$66.9 billion high-speed rail link to Guangzhou after a vote on funding for the project was delayed again on Friday. Yesterday, Tsang said he understood the concerns of lawmakers and the villagers of Tsoi Yuen Tsuen who would have to leave their homes for the project, but stressed the rail link would bring economic benefit to Hong Kong. 'We respect the right of lawmakers to raise questions, and my colleagues will continue, with great patience, to answer those questions. But the Finance Committee has already held two relatively long meetings. 'I hope very much that in the next meeting, this issue can be decided upon, and that this plan goes ahead as soon as possible,' he said. A vote on the funding had initially been expected in mid-December, but pan-democrats' concerns over the cost-effectiveness and the environmental impact of the project, combined with the Christmas holiday, meant an additional meeting was held on Friday. But after more than six hours' debate, and with many questions remaining unanswered, the meeting ended without a vote. Another meeting will be held on Friday this week. The government considers construction of the 26-kilometre line the most important infrastructure project since Chek Lap Kok airport, and is desperate to start work as soon as possible. Even if work is completed by 2015, as scheduled, it would already be two years after completion of the rest of the link across the border. However, Tsoi Yuen Tsuen residents, combined with an increasing number of discontented young people, who see the project as another indication of the government failing to respect their values of sustainable development and heritage preservation, have exerted sufficient public pressure to derail the construction schedule. Environmental concern group Green Sense yesterday said it would begin mobilising heritage supporters from a wider age range, including high school students born in the 1990s, to oppose the government's plan. Green Sense president Roy Tam Hoi-pong said he would send letters to about 500 teachers to organise school trips, and expects 50 to 100 to respond positively to his suggestion. He said he would stage exhibitions on Hong Kong's environment and the government's obsession with the rail project. Yesterday, Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing refrained from criticising lawmakers for delaying tactics, saying the public would judge for themselves. 'It's normal for lawmakers to raise questions of the government over public matters, although of course to use the raising of questions as an excuse to delay proceedings would contradict the public's expectations of the legislature.' Finance Committee chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said the Legco secretariat was seeking lawmakers' views on to how to proceed with this Friday's meeting, in order to decide on how to set time limits. The government will submit its suggestions today.