High Speed Train

Hong Kong MTR

Hong Kong’s high-speed rail link to mainland China is 90 per cent complete – but exterior wall panels still way off schedule

Only 85 per cent of glazing and 44 per cent of ­aluminium work finished, throwing it behind schedule, but rest of the project is 90 per cent complete – ahead of schedule to open in third quarter of 2018

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, 6:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2017, 4:26pm

The fitting of exterior wall panels at the station in Hong Kong for the high-speed rail link to the mainland has fallen behind schedule, but the massive project on the whole is officially 90 per cent ­complete.

Documents supplied to the Legislative Council by the Transport and Housing Bureau on Mondayalso confirmed that the cross-boundary tunnel joining the Hong Kong and mainland sections of the new line was also “substantially complete”.

It was the latest quarterly progress update by the government and the MTR Corporation for the state of the HK$84.4 billion Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link as of March this year.

Chinese immigration officers to exercise full powers at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon terminus

The documents confirmed that the project was now 90 per cent complete, beating the target of 85.9 per cent if it was to be ­commissioned in the third quarter of 2018 – the latest scheduled opening date after a spate of ­delays.

The most critical parts of the entire project, according to the documents, were still the construction of the West Kowloon ­terminus and the relevant electrical and mechanical works.

Construction had wrapped up on the south side of the terminus, while the north side was 96.3 per cent complete. Electrical and mechanical works were 75.5 per cent complete in March – earlier than planned.

The installation of panels for the external wall systems at the station, however, could prove to be the Achilles’ heel of the project.

While the glazing and aluminium panels were produced in pre-fabrication yards, in a bid to speed up construction, only 85 per cent of glazing and 44 per cent of ­aluminium work was finished, throwing it behind schedule.

“However, it did not impact on the overall installation programme,” the Transport and Housing Bureau insisted.

Meanwhile, an image of ­inspection counters in the Hong Kong customs, immigration and quarantine area in the terminus has surfaced for the first time from the MTRC’s report.

Few other details were revealed for the HK$2.6 billion boundary control facilities, part of the proposed “co-location” ­arrangement which will see mainland officers enforce national laws inside designated zones of the ­terminus, or even on board the trains.

Legal and jurisdictional matters have yet to be ironed out, and authorities are hoping a concrete plan can be announced within the current term of the administration, which ends in one month’s time.

Good progress was also observed outside the West Kowloon terminus. Nearly 90 per cent of overhead power lines have been installed, while mobile phone network signals cover the entire tunnel section from the border to Mong Kok.

As for the financial situation, the project has now racked up HK$62.6 billion of expenditure, with another HK$15.2 billion worth of unresolved claims being handled.