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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 £8.7bn 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 £4.4bn West Rail project and the smaller £2bn 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.

There is likely to be stiff competition for the Sha Tin-Central link, with KCRC and MTRC already submitting their proposals. A KCRC spokesman said: ‘KCRC is interested in the Sha Tin to Central Link and the regional express line as we have the capability to plan, design and build these new railway projects on the back of our experience with West Rail phase one, and East Rail extensions.’

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

Despite last week’s news, both companies will have to lodge detailed financial and technical proposals before any of the schemes gets the final go ahead.

Cash for the projects is likely to come from a mixture of government funds, commercial borrowing and internal rail company resources.

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

The government said the new railways package would meet economic, social and population growth up to 2015 and cement economic and social ties with the mainland.

‘The network will facilitate the development of the strategic growth areas in the New Territories and redevelopment in the metro area, ’ secretary for transport Nicholas Ng Wing-Fui said.

Six schemes approved Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation 1 3.5km Kowloon southern link 216km northern link connecting the West Rail network at Kam Sheung Road to the East Rail at Kwu Tung and to the boundary crossing at Lok Ma Chau 3Port rail line from the Kwai Chung container port to the Hong KongShenzhen boundary Mass Transit Railway Corporation 4 North Hong Kong Island Line running either from Central West to Kennedy Town or from Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town. Total length is about 4km Two lines up for bids 5 Regional express line from Hung Hom to the boundary with Shenzhen.

The project could cost US$2.2bn 6Central to Sha Tin link that has two alternative routes via Wan Chai North or Wan Chai South, Leighton Hill and Causeway Bay. It will include a fourth harbour crossing and continue to Diamond Hill and Tai Wai.

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