MTR Corporation says it has submitted proposal for verifying platform at troubled station under construction
- Beleaguered company is set to tear up part of the platform at Hung Hom station to check its structural integrity
- Demolition work is likely to be carried out in December
Hong Kong’s embattled MTR Corporation is set to tear up a new platform at Hung Hom station in December as the government tries to get to the bottom of the construction scandal plaguing Hong Kong’s most expensive rail project, the Post has learned.
In a press statement issued on Friday, the rail giant said it had submitted to the government a ‘holistic’ proposal for verifying the structural integrity of platform slabs at the station extension under the HK$97.1 billion (US$12.4 billion) Sha Tin-Central link.
The company did not specify the details of the proposal, only saying that the strategy had taken into account the views of the government and a three-member expert team appointed by the government to look into the station’s construction issues.
“The Corporation has also been working closely with its external consultants to continue the assessment of the structural integrity of the station extension,” it said.
The rail firm said that, upon acceptance by the government and the expert team, its projects team would work to “commence the implementation of the strategy as soon as possible to give the public assurance as to the quality and safety of the structure”.
The Highways Department said all relevant government departments would conduct a detailed review of the rail operator’s proposal. “Upon completion of the review and confirmation of acceptance of the proposal, the government will make the holistic proposal public,” it said in a statement.
However, an insider source said the government had already accepted the MTR’s proposal of tearing up parts of the station platform and the supporting diaphragm walls. The government is expected to hold a press conference next week explaining the matter.
The Transport and Housing Bureau admitted it had already held a meeting with the MTR Corp on Monday to discuss its draft report.
“The demolition work is expected to be carried out in December and the scale will be bigger than previously suggested,” the source said.
The move came after the expert team, comprising three senior retired government officers, last month recommended the rail operator formulate a strategy for assessing the structural safety of the expanded station, which it said should also cover the East-West line and North-South line track slabs and the diaphragm walls.
According to the expert team’s interim report, the strategy should include physical inspections through opening up the structures, non-destructive tests and load tests, and also the proposed remedial works. The MTR Corp promised to submit another detailed report by the middle of this month.
The demolition work arose out of a construction scandal that erupted in May, and which involved the cutting of steel bars to imitate proper installation into couplers in the station platform, and that the structure of the supporting diaphragm walls was revised without government authorisation.
Leighton Contractors (Asia), the main contractor in charge of building the station platform for the multibillion-dollar rail link, has strongly denied having engineered the shoddy work.
In a commission of inquiry into the allegations, which is currently under way, the firm only admitted a total of eight bars being cut short, on three separate occasions by its bar-fixing subcontractor Fang Sheung Construction.