Provisional LegCo Panel on Transport
Review of the Railway Development Strategy
This paper informs Members of the scope and approach of the forthcoming review of the Railway Development Strategy (RDS).
2.The RDS announced in 1994 provided the broad framework for the development of Hong Kong's railway network and identified three priority projects for early implementation, namely the West Rail (formerly known as the Western Corridor Railway), the Mass Transit Railway Tseung Kwan O Extension, and the Ma On Shan to Tai Wai Rail Link (which is to couple with an extension of the Kowloon-Canton Railway from Hunghom to Tsim Sha Tsui).
3.These three priority rail projects are being planned for completion by the turn of the century in the next five years or so.
4.In addition to the three priority rail projects, the RDS also recommended a number of longer term rail proposals, the implementation of which will be is subject to further land use decisions and infrastructure developments.
The need for an update on RDS
5.Since 1994, there have been significant changes to the planning context within which the RDS was formulated. These changes and their effects are summarised below :-
- Population forecast
The 1994 RDS was formulated on the basis of a total territorial population of 6.4 million by the year 2011. As a result of the 1996 Population By-census, the population projection has been revised upwards to 7.8 million by the year 2011 and 8.2 million by 2016. Together with variations in the population distribution and employment characteristics, there will be a substantial increase in the demand for transport infrastructure, especially rail-based transport. This will be over and above the transport capacity of the RDS recommended priority projects.
- New Strategic Policy Objectives
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has set new strategic policy objectives regarding an enhanced housing programme and economic development. In order to help achieve these new policy objectives, it is necessary to plan ahead for the provision of adequate infrastructure. This will include accelerating the construction of certain rail projects to facilitate accessibility to new growth areas and to improve cross-boundary passenger and freight transport links.
- New planning initiatives
The Government and the two railway corporations have initiated various strategic planning studies to address problems arising from the forecast increase in population and economic growth. These studies have shed light on the future development of Hong Kong's transport system (including railways), which will need to be followed up.
6.On account of the above, we need a comprehensive update of the RDS - to review the previously recommended railway network expansion plan; to set new priorities and implementation sequence, and to consider appropriate methods for project implementation.
The Proposed RDS Review
7.On the basis of the 1994 RDS, and taking into account new strategic policy directives and the latest developments in land use, infrastructure and population forecasts, the Transport Bureau will carry out a comprehensive review of the RDS. The goal of the Review is to formulate a clear, coherent and comprehensive Railway Development Strategy for the provision of a safe, reliable, efficient, convenient and commercially viable rail system in order to sustain the economic, social, land and housing developments of Hong Kong up to 2016.
8.The Review will revisit the longer term proposals recommended in the RDS and examine other new proposals with a view to establishing their priorities, and in particular, to recommending a railway system which is able to :-
- facilitate timely accessibility to strategic growth areas where land and housing developments are needed and to stimulate further developments along rail corridors;
- relieve identified and potential bottlenecks and black spots of congestion in the existing railway system;
- meet cross-boundary passenger and freight traffic demands and to ensure compatibility and integration with the relevant railway systems in the Mainland; and
- increase the share of rail in the overall transport system in order to reduce the environmental impact of road-based transport and to relieve the precious road space for other developments.
9.As regards the implementation and operation of railway projects, the Review will also assess the effectiveness of the existing institutional arrangements and recommend improvements where necessary.
Scope of the Review
10.The Review will comprise three main parts :-
Approach of the Review
- Network Study
The Review will review the list of railway proposals recommended in the 1994 RDS and will propose an updated configuration for optimal network(s). In addition, the Review will also consider the need for new railway schemes, such as a fourth rail harbour crossing.
- Interim Recommendations
The Review will explore means to fast track the planning process for railway development. It will include a number of specific studies on the more imminent issues e.g. necessary improvements to relieve identified and potential overloading of the system etc., and make interim recommendations to establish the priority of certain urgent rail projects, which are essential to support Hong Kong's developments in the next decade. With the interim recommendations, we could proceed immediately with the planning of these railways to ensure their timely delivery.
- Institutional Study Other aspects of implementation
The Review will also look into the other implemental aspects. These will include questions on existing institutional arrangements for the implementation of railway projects. This will include investigating various funding arrangement methods for new railway projects;, to what extent we can setsetting unified standards for railways,; and which of the proposed projects should be implemented first, and by whom.and considering the various institutional options for their implemention etc.
11.We will commission consultants to undertake the study on the RDS Review. A Steering Committee chaired by the Secretary for Transport and comprising representatives of relevant bureaux and departments will be set up to oversee the consultancy study. The day-to-day management of the consultancy will be undertaken by the Highways Department.
The Estimated Cost, Study Duration and Programme
12.The estimated cost for the consultancy study is in the order of $35 million. The study will take about 18 months to complete. Interim recommendations on some of the specific studies e.g. to relieve potential congestion in the existing rail network, will be made available at an earlier time.
13.We plan to seek Finance Committe's approval for the allocation of funds for the study in December 1997. Subject to funding approval, we will commence the study in early 1998.
14.Members are requested to note the scope and approach of the RDS Review.