A SHOWPIECE rail project in Hong Kong is facing delays before design work has begun.
The problems emerged on the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation's £1.25bn East Rail extension earlier this month, when six consultancy teams were expecting to receive tender documents for the second design contract on the 13km extension.
Instead, they received a letter from KCRC infrastructure general manager Steve Barley saying it was unclear when tenders would be invited.
The six left in limbo are Babtie BMT Harris & Sutherland; Meinhardt (Hong Kong); Mitchell McFarlane Brentnall/LBII; Mouchel-Gibb Rail; Parsons Brinckerhoff Asia; and Pypun Engineering Consultants/Maunsell Consultants.
Construction of the East Rail extension is set to start in 2000, with completion in 2004. The programme is still possible, although it depends how long the hold-up lasts.
Sources said East Rail staff had been overwhelmed by the volume of work required on the 11.4km line between Ma On Shan and Tai Wai station, and a 1.5km line from the present terminus at Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui.
'East Rail simply doesn't have the resources. It has been recruiting like mad and at the same time borrowing staff from the West Rail project,' said one insider.
Barley's office referred calls to the KCRC press office which was unavailable for comment as NCE went to press.
The affected contract is HDD-400, covering Hung Hom station and the Ho Man Tin supply feeder station in Kowloon.