Bureaucratic hubris drove doomed express rail-link project

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2016, 3:41pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2016, 3:41pm

I refer to the report (“MTR told to plan for rail link suspension”, March 1) and commend your columnist Jake van der Kamp for his reasoned clarity in opposing this rotten project (“Legco on right track in seeking to derail high-speed rail link”, March 1).

Green groups are right to declare that billions have been spent, but there is no comprehensive plan.

Transport and Housing Secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung is acting like a Macau casino gambler by requesting more funds, as he will never recoup the losses and it would be sensible to “cut-out” and draw a line under this ill-fated project. He is unable to offer any transport, engineering or commercial rationale for the additional funding, but states it is necessary to ensure the livelihoods of construction workers.

How can the government justify such a job-creation scheme to the citizens of Hong Kong? There was strong public opposition to the Hong Kong express rail link from the outset, and little popular support.

It was bureaucratic hubris and administrative arrogance that drove this doomed project. The choice of location was illogical and severely flawed, and it appeared to be a favour to property tycoons who had developed isolated West Kowloon. If this had been the MTR’s commercial decision there is little doubt that this location, and indeed the project itself, would have been rejected.

The legislative councillors who blithely approved the funding in 2010 did a disservice to Hong Kong. The MTR’s website describes this high-speed rail project as a “viable and pragmatic solution”. What nonsense. They are fooling themselves but not the Hong Kong public.

Anthony Cheung should wipe the slate clean, and review Hong Kong’s genuine transport requirements.

A pragmatic transport solution would be to extend the Airport Express to link to the Shenzhen Bao’an airport and to tie this line into the already existing Futian high-speed station in Shenzhen.

If national politics demands that Hong Kong has a high-speed station then it is better to locate it in a rural area to likewise connect to the Airport Express and our West Rail Line.

There is ample platform capacity existing at the Central Airport Express terminal, which is integrated into the heart of our transport system, whereas West Kowloon remains at a loose end.

Frank Lee, Wan Chai