HONG KONG'S Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) has won the rights to develop a US$100M cable car at Tung Chung, close to Chek Lap Kok airport, more than four years after first proposing the scheme.
The award is seen as a consolation prize to the MTRC after it lost out to rival rail operator Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation for the US$4bn Central to Sha Tin rail line.
The scheme, now set to get under way next year, will see construction of a 5.5km link from a base station at the southern part of Chek Lap Kok airport via Tung Chung new town, to the Great Buddha in Ngong Ping on Lantau Island.
The MTRC is set to sign a provisional agreement for its 30 year concession with the government later this month.
But it is likely to be another year, after completion of legislative procedures and a project agreement, before the franchise is formally awarded.
The project has already been delayed by tendering and environmental wrangles after the MTRC initiated the idea of a cable car link in 1998.
Having sat on MTRC's plans for months, the government decided to invite competitive bids around two years ago.
There were further delays, partly because of environmental concerns voiced by monks at the Ngong Ping monastery.
Work is expected to complete in August 2005 when the 17 minute cable car journey will be made by 1M travellers a year, according to MTRC forecasts.