PROVISIONAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL BRIEF
MA ON SHAN TO TAI WAI RAIL LINK AND
EXTENSION OF THE KOWLOON-CANTON
RAILWAY TO TSIM SHA TSUI
At the meeting of the Executive Council held on 9 December 1997, the Council ADVISED and the Acting Chief Executive ORDERED that -
BACKGROUND AND ARGUMENT
- the proposed engineering schemes for the Ma On Shan to Tai Wai rail link ( " MOS rail " ) and the extension of the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) from Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui ( " TST Extension " ) set out in paragraphs 4 to 7 should be adopted in principle; and
- the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) be invited to submit proposals for the implementation of the MOS rail and the TST Extension as a package.
2.The MOS rail and the TST Extension together form one of the three high priority projects recommended under the 1994 Railway Development Strategy. The MOS rail and the TST Extension are essential to improve access to the North East New Territories (NENT), and to facilitate the further development of the region. The two railway sections are complementary in nature. Without the TST Extension, additional passengers from the MOS rail travelling to the urban areas could only interchange to the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) at Kowloon Tong station. This would overload the Kowloon Tong interchange and the MTR Nathan Road Corridor. With the TST Extension, MOS rail passengers going to Tsim Sha Tsui can stay on the KCR, thereby relieving the pressure on the MTR. Subject to further study, we plan to provide a direct linkage in the form of a pedestrian subway between the proposed KCR East TST station and the existing MTR TST station. This will provide another interchange between KCR and MTR for Hong Kong-bound passengers.
ENGINEERING FEASIBILITY STUDY
3.The engineering feasibility study on the MOS rail and TST Extension was completed in February 1997 and the major recommendations of the engineering consultants are set out below.
4.The proposed alignment of the MOS rail, which comprises nine stations (Tai Wai, Sha Tin Tau, Sha Kok Street, City One, Shek Mun, Chevalier Garden, Heng On, Ma On Shan and Lee On) and a depot at Tai Wai, is shown at Annex A. There is potential for property development along the MOS rail at the Tai Wai depot, and the stations at Sha Tin Tau, Shek Mun and Lee On.
5.Based on the data in the Territorial Development Strategy Review (TDSR), the MOS rail has a catchment population of about 369 000 in 2011. Taking into account the additional housing sites in the Shatin/Ma On Shan area which we have recently identified to increase the housing supply, the MOS rail will serve a potential catchment population of about 436 000, with an anticipated daily patronage of approximately 267 000 in the year 2011. We are considering the practicability of increasing the development density at Whitehead, Lee On and Sai Sha. Subject to Government's decision on the development parameters for these areas, the catchment population for the MOS rail may be further increased.
6.The proposed rail system (4-car MTR-type trains) and the civil works of the MOS rail are designed to allow for a future extension into the urban area, which may be required in the longer term depending on the land use and the development in NENT. The preliminary estimated construction cost (excluding land and financing costs) for the MOS rail is $6.7 billion in 1995 prices.
Tsim Sha Tsui Extension
7.The TST Extension would run along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and Middle Road, with a new station at the foot of Signal Hill (see Annex B). The estimated construction cost (excluding land and financing costs) is $2.4 billion in 1995 prices.
8.We intend to invite KCRC to submit proposals on the implementation of the MOS rail and the TST Extension as a package, for the following reasons -
- the MOS rail will not be connected to the existing MTR system; and
- as MOS rail passengers will have to change at the Tai Wai station of the existing KCR line to go to the urban area, integration of the two rail systems can be best achieved if KCRC is to construct and operate the MOS rail.
9.Taking into account the time required for project initiation and construction, we anticipate that the MOS rail can be completed in 2004 and the TST Extension in late 2003. A preliminary programme for the project is at Annex C. The preliminary programme, cost and estimated financial viability of the project will require refinement in the process of examining KCRC's proposals.
FINANCIAL AND STAFFING IMPLICATIONS
10.Any necessary financing support for the project from Government can only be ascertained when we receive detailed proposals from KCRC.
11.The construction of the MOS rail and the TST Extension will have additional financial and staffing implications for a number of Government departments. Lands Department, which will be responsible for carrying out land resumption and other land related works for the project, will require additional staff and incur expenditure on contracting out part of the land survey and mapping services at an annual cost of $15 million. In addition, for implementing all the three priority railway projects (i.e. the West Rail, Tseung Kwan O Extension, and the MOS rail/TST Extension), we have earmarked $24 million for additional staff in Transport Bureau, Highways Department, Transport Department, Planning Department and Civil Engineering Department.
12.The high priority railways are essential for serving the transport and economic needs of the community. Implementation of the MOS rail and the TST Extension will improve access to NENT, and facilitate the further development of the region. As such, they are complementary to the implementation of the housing production target. The priority railway projects will be the main focus of infrastructural development in Hong Kong following the completion of the Airport Core Programme.
13.These projects will add to the workload of the local construction industry. Pressure on labour resources is a particularly significant factor in this context. The Education and Manpower Bureau is about to complete a study on the manpower needs of the construction industry, in view of the expected labour demand arising from our plans to boost housing supply and our infrastructure over the next decade. The possible manpower requirements of the MOS rail and the TST Extension will be taken into account. In the light of the findings of this study, the Government will draw up appropriate measures to ensure an adequate supply of construction workers to cope with the overall labour requirements in the next few years.
14.The Highways Department completed an Environmental Feasibility Study (EFS) as part of the engineering feasibility study for the MOS rail and TST Extension. The study concluded that with the recommended mitigation measures implemented, environmental impacts arising from the construction and operation of the project can be controlled to within the established standards. The EFS report was endorsed by the Advisory Council on the Environment in April 1997. The KCRC will be required to carry out a detailed EIA study during the detailed design stage to refine the recommendations in the EFS and devise detailed mitigation measures.
15.In December 1994, we published the Railway Development Strategy which received widespread public support. The Legislative Council was briefed on the high priority projects, including the MOS rail and the TST Extension, in the context of the Strategy. In the course of the engineering feasibility study, we became aware that the TST Extension would affect Signal Hill, which falls under the purview of the Urban Council. We consulted the Urban Council on the proposed Middle Road alignment for the Extension in November 1996 and June 1997. The Urban Council expressed no objection to the proposed alignment, but requested that any necessary felling of trees at Signal Hill should be minimised.
16.We will further brief the Provisional Urban Council, the Provisional District Boards and other relevant parties on the project.
17.A press release will be issued and press conference held.
18.The subject officer is Ms Linda So, Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (2810 2218).
9 December 1997