Construction of Hong Kong's West Rail commuter railway has progressed rapidly this year, reports Andrew Bolton.
Civils work on Hong Kong's £4.1bn West Rail line linking the western New Territories with downtown Kowloon is rapidly coming to a close, paving the way for fit out work and train testing. Strong project management and close relationships between client Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation and its contractors have helped the project motor through 2001, keeping it on track for the scheduled opening in 2003. More than 90% of civils construction work is now complete.
Little about the project is straightforward. Balfour BeattyZen Pacific's Nam Cheong station in Kowloon is being partly constructed underneath the airport express line, which is in turn straddled by the busy Kowloon expressway viaduct.
Kier-Zen Pacific's massive Mei Foo station is shoehorned into space between two major roads and a vast housing estate.
Between Mei Foo and Tsuen Wan West, Dragages/Zen Pacific has overcome problems in boulder bearing soft ground. It made the final breakthrough for the 1.78km twin bore Tsing Tsuen three months behind schedule in July. Beyond Tsuen Wan West, the second bore of the two 5.5km Tai Lam drill and blast tunnel bores broke through in early April.
Further west in the New Territories, a production line style assembly programme has kept erection of the precast glued segmental spans for the 13.5km viaduct on track. The structure, which will carry West Rail from the Tai Lam tunnel to the terminus at Tuen Mun, is 90% complete, with work under way on the last 50 of the structure's 607 spans. It is being constructed by Maeda-Chun Wo.
Most of the remaining West Rail construction work is on the stations. Some of those in the New Territories will stand on piers built into flood channels or nullahs. Work on these had to be scheduled to ensure that construction only took place in the dry season, so that equipment and coffer dams did not restrict storm water flows during the monsoon season.
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