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New lines boost for Hong Kong rail sector

HONG KONG'S rail construction boom is set to continue after the government gave the initial go ahead for construction of six new lines worth HK$100bn (US$13bn) over the next 15 years.

Details of the schemes appear in the Rail Development Strategy 2000 which was approved by the Executive Council - the non-elected arm of Hong Kong's parliament.

Work will follow on the back of Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation's HK$52bn West Rail project and the smaller HK$23.5bn Tseung Kwan O line being built by mass transit rail company MTR Corporation.

The new programme includes urban and suburban lines and a dedicated freight line between the Kwai Chung container port and the boundary with Shenzhen.

Officials have given three of the projects to the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation and one to the Mass Transit Railway Corporation.

The other two schemes - a regional express line and a connection between Sha Tin new town and the Central business district - will be put out to tender.

No timetable for the new links has been released, but construction is expected to start in 2006 after the present rail programme finishes.

Both companies will have to lodge detailed financial and technical proposals before any of the schemes gets the final go ahead. Cash is likely to come from a mixture of government funds, commercial borrowing and internal company resources.

MTRC could fund part of the Island line extension from the proceeds of a planned privatisation later this year.

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