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Hong Kong rail bonanza beckons UK firms

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UK CIVILS firms are set to win a major tranche of work after the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) won the development rights for a £2.6bn 15km railway between Hong Kong's central business district and Sha Tin new town.

KCRC's award, beating a rival offer by the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC), was confirmed last week by the Executive Council (Exco), Hong Kong's highest parliamentary body.

'KCRC's bid fares better financially as it attracts a higher patronage level, sets a lower fare level, generates higher returns on investment and requires no funding support from the government, ' said a government spokesman.

Preliminary and detailed design is set to start next year ready for construction to begin in 2004, with completion expected between 2008 and 2011.

Atkins China is well placed for a slice of design work after fronting one of the three design teams that helped KCRC formulate the rail firm's bid. It framed proposals for the middle section from Diamond Hill in Kowloon via Hung Hom and a fourth harbour crossing to Hong Kong Island.

Mott Connell, which framed plans for the northern section running from Tai Wai and Sha Tin to Diamond Hill, and Australia's Meinhardt, which looked after the section on Hong Kong Island, are also favoured.

Following its official appointment, KCRC will firm up the project scope later this year. This includes the possible inclusion of three additional stations in Kowloon that were originally part of the MTRC's bid package.

In a separate move, the Hong Kong government has agreed to carry out a feasibility study into merging the MTRC and KCRC into a single rail company following pressure from Exco.

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