LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1336/96-97
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PS/8/95/1

LegCo Panel on Transport
Subcommittee on Western Corridor Railway

Minutes of the Meeting
on Friday, 24 January 1997, at 9:10 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    >Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Members absent :

    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon SIN Chung-kai

Public officers attending :

Transport Branch

Acting Secretary for Transport
Mrs Jenny Wallis
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport

Highways Department
Government Engineer/Railway Development
Mr Duncan SIU
Chief Engineer/Western Corridor Railway

Attendance by invitation :

Mouchel Asia Limited

Mr Malcolm Taylor
Mr Nigel Pike
Mr Bill Morris
Railway Engineering Manager

BZW Asia Limited
Mr Stephen Phillips
Mr Robert Montanar
Senior Manager

Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation
Chairman & Chief Executive
Mr Ian McPherson
Director, West Rail
Mr Samuel LAI
Director, East Rail

Clerk in attendance:

    Mrs Vivian KAM

Staff in attendance :

Mr Matthew LOO
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4

I Concerns raised by members at the meeting on 24 October 1996

(LegCo Papers No. CB(1) 681/96-97(01) issued)

The Chairman welcomed Mr K Y YEUNG, the new Chairman and Chief Executive of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) to the meeting. She invited Mr YEUNG to brief members on the consultancies and staffing proposals of the KCRC for the Western Corridor Railway (WCR) project.

2. Mr YEUNG said that the Administration had given a mandate to KCRC in December 1996 to complete the design and draw up a project agreement for the domestic passenger line of WCR within 14 months. Construction was expected to commence in mid-1998 and the WCR Yuen Long section and Tuen Mun section would be completed by the end of 2002 and September 2003 respectively. When compared with the original proposal by KCRC, Phase I of the project would reduce the overall land requirement by about 40%, and the estimated construction cost was about $56.4 billion in money of the day. The fare structure for the WCR would basically be distance-based and the fare was estimated at $21 at 1996 prices for the 31 kilometres WCR domestic passenger line, although the exact fare would have to be decided when WCR was ready to come into operation. In order to meet the tight working schedule, the following tasks were being conducted concurrently:

  1. nine consultancy contracts for the Phase I Technical Studies Programme had been awarded for studies on civil works, environmental impact, safety and tunnel ventilation, etc. These were related to the alignment of the domestic passenger line and would be completed by mid-1997 at a cost of about $230 million; and
  2. the Phase II Technical Studies Programme involved another 14 studies for the preliminary design of the civil works and details of the various systems which would make up the domestic passenger line. These studies would be completed in mid-1998 at an estimated cost of $520 million.

3. Mr YEUNG advised that unlike the Mass Transit Railway Corporation which had staff experienced in the construction of railways, KCRC had no experienced personnel in this respect. There was a need for an overall core consultant and accordingly KCRC had invited the Pacific Betchel Corporation (Betchel) to assume the role. Since joining the KCRC however, he felt that the present staffing arrangements were unsatisfactory and had appointed a negotiation team to review the staffing resources in conjunction with Betchel. As a result of the review, the number of professional and technical staff for the WCR project would be increased to 214, of which 108 would be from KCRC and 106 from Betchel. The leading posts would be filled by staff from KCRC to ensure control of the progress and cost effectiveness of the project, and also to effect the transfer of technologies. He assured members that the additional posts would be filled either by internal transfer or by open recruitment, and that preference would be given to suitable local applicants. In addition, the KCRC would maintain an open, fair and competitive pre-qualification and tendering system similar to that of the Central Tender Board of the Administration. The above proposals had been endorsed by KCRC’s Managing Board at its meeting on 20 January 1997.


4. In response to members, Mr YEUNG assured that the new staffing proposals would help to speed up the transfer of technology from Betchel to KCRC. Apart from designating KCRC staff for supervising and working with Betchel’s experts on such engineering disciplines as railway safety and signal system, a Quality Manager from KCRC would also work jointly with the Value Engineer from Betchel to monitor construction progress in a cost-effective manner. Mr YEUNG confirmed that experts from Betchel would also be invited to join KCRC. He envisaged that many such staff would opt to join the KCRC for job security reasons and for the opportunity of putting their expertise into good use. The KCRC would put up advertisements by the end of January and recruitment should be completed within six months. He foresaw no difficulty in recruiting suitable candidates as KCRC had only proposed a small increase in the number of staff. Furthermore, professional and technical staff currently working on the New Airport project might also be interested and would be available following the opening of the New Airport in 1998. Meanwhile, Mr YEUNG undertook to identify posts which had been transferred from Betchel to KCRC and to advise related transfer arrangements.




5. Members were concerned about possible duplication in technology and experience gained in railway construction and operation between the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) and KCRC when each built up respective teams for master-minding railway projects. Some members noted that a considerable number of professionals with the two Corporations were expatriates and enquired if the loss of expertise could be avoided following the departure of such staff. In response, Mr YEUNG said that the two Corporations were basically managing two different types of systems; staff concerned would meet regularly for exchange of experience and expertise, and this would complement each other’s efforts. He appreciated members’ concerns on over-reliance on overseas professionals and consultancy firms and re-iterated that KCRC would give priority to local professionals in accordance with the Corporation’s recruitment policy. At members’ request, he undertook to provide details of the 14 studies in Phase II of the Technical Studies Programme to show the staffing arrangements. The Acting Secretary for Transport added that both railway Corporations would take up major projects in the near future and it was essential for them to have adequate experienced staff to exercise a supervisory role. He undertook to examine whether the transfer of technology from the consultants to the two Corporations could be speeded up with a view to promoting participation by local professionals, and also took note of a member’s suggestion for the Administration and Betchel to award contracts to other consultancy firms or undertake contracts jointly with these firms to enhance the transfer of technology to local consultancy firms.

6. To facilitate the award of consultancy studies, Mr YEUNG advised that KCRC would firstly conduct a pre-qualification exercise to produce a list of suitable consultancy firms. The firms would then be invited to bid for the contracts through a competitive open tendering process. KCRC would closely monitor progress and provide assistance in co-ordinating their activities with those of relevant Government departments and other consultants. He considered that these measures would help KCRC to ensure timely completion of the consultancy studies.


7. On the salary scales of KCRC staff, Mr Samuel LAI advised that these were based on those adopted by the New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office. As regards whether the fare structure of WCR would be distance-based or if it would be related to the Project Internal Rate of Return of 13.2% preset by the Administration, Mr YEUNG affirmed that it would basically be distance-based but emphasized that it would only be decided when WCR was ready to come into operation. Nevertheless, he undertook to provide members with further information in this respect. The Chairman also advised that members would have a clearer picture on the fare structure after the Government’s financial consultants had presented their interim reports. In response to a member on recent press reports concerning income to be generated from property developments along the WCR, Mr YEUNG clarified that there had been some misunderstandings and advised that the details of these developments had yet to be confirmed.

II Interim reports by the Government’s consultants

(Paper No. CB(1) 731/96-97(01) provided by the Administration)

8. Owing to time constraint, members decided to defer the briefing and discussion on this subject to the next meeting on 3 February 1997 at 8:30 a.m. The Chairman advised that concerns raised at the current meeting would also be followed up at the next meeting.

III Any other business

9. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 10:50 a.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
23 April 1997

Last Updated on 22 August 1998