Last year in NCE magazine, my colleague Ian Thoms reported on the remarkable progress that we at Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation had been making on West Rail, Phase I. Now as senior director, capital projects, I would like to discuss the advances we have made not only on the West Rail project, but on the East Rail Extensions and other projects for which we are currently making plans or bids.
West Rail, Phase I, is the largest infrastructure project currently under way in Hong Kong. In the past year we have made substantial progress on this 30.5km rail line, which will link areas of increasing population in the North West New Territories to West Kowloon. It is now 70% completed, with all the tunnels, the viaduct structure and 97% of the station structures finished. The entire project is on track to open for service ahead of the original target date of December 2003.
In addition to the ongoing West Rail project, last year we started construction on two of the three extensions for East Rail. These included Ma On Shan Rail and the Tsim Sha Tsui Extension, on which about 30% of the civil construction works have been completed, well on target for completion in 2004.
The third project, the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, is urgently required as a second railway crossing to relieve the growing congestion at the Lo Wu boundary crossing. Construction is expected to begin this year, and the entire project will likely be fast-tracked for completion in mid-2007.
With the commissioning of West Rail and the three East Rail Extensions, the total route length of the Corporation's heavy rail will be increased by 150% to 84.1km. The completion of these projects, however, will not mean the end of the expansion.
Two additional major new railway projects are now in the planning stages. The Kowloon Southern Link will connect the southern ends of East Rail and West Rail via Tsim Sha Tsui, the business district of Kowloon. The Shatin to Central Link will provide a rail link between the Eastern New Territories and Hong Kong Island via a fourth cross-harbour crossing.
Proposals for these lines have been submitted to the government, and we are now awaiting their decision.
Looking beyond these projects, we are now carrying out studies for three other lines: a Port Rail Line which joins East Rail at Tai Wai to Kwai Chung container terminal; the Northern Link, which will connect East Rail and West Rail at the northern section; and the Regional Express Line, which would provide express intercity services between Hong Kong and the mainland.
All of these projects signal a change in our role from steady-state railway operator into a major developer of new railways. We are delighted to be taking part in the continued development of Hong Kong's railway network and to provide world-class rail services to the travelling public.