The HK$64bn (£5.1bn) West Rail is a landmark project, not only because it is the first major railway extension undertaken by Kowloon- Canton Railway Corporation and the biggest stand alone project ever undertaken in Hong Kong, but also because strategically it will solve a long outstanding transport need for a fast, safe and efficient link between the North West New Territories and the urban area. It will unlock the economic potential of Hong Kong's most rapidly growing region.
The new 30.3km line, running from West Kowloon to Tuen Mun, will have an ultimate capacity of almost 100,000 passengers per peak hour in either direction, and will have nine stations and a major depot. Four of the stations will interchange with KCRC's existing New Territories Light Rail system, whilst in Kowloon, two of the stations will interchange with the Mass Transit Railway system. The station at Yen Chow Street will be a wholly integrated KCR/MTR operation, within an underground structure common to both Corporations - another first.
About 40% of the alignment will be underground, 15% at grade, and the remaining 45%, or some 13.5km, will be elevated. Stringent environmental mitigation measures will be adopted, and will result in West Rail being one of the quietest railways in the world.
The project has a very tight programme schedule. Five years from now, this new railway will be fully operational, carrying 340,000 passengers per day. KCRC is gearing up accordingly and expanding its project team of professionals to meet the demanding tasks, from land acquisition and a myriad of construction challenges through to final commissioning, test and trial running and revenue operation.
While West Rail is a major engineering and construction project, in the final analysis it is a project for the people. We are determined not to lose sight of the human dimension of this mammoth project, and are taking every possible step to minimise the impact it will have on the community. Right from the drawing board stage, extensive public consultation has been conducted. Community outreach efforts will be further intensified throughout construction so that concerns will be dealt with expeditiously. Our information campaign will ensure the public will have a good understanding of the railway before it comes into operation at the end of 2003.
The reality of West Rail now moving into implementation is exciting and welcome, given the recent financial turmoil of the Asian economies. West Rail will help serve as a catalyst to economic recovery in Hong Kong, as well as usher in a period of substantial network expansion for KCRC over the next decade and beyond.
At KCRC, we look forward to a promising future, and hope that you enjoy reading about our exciting projects in this special West Rail supplement.