LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1931/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PS/8/95

LegCo Panel on Transport
Subcommittee on Western Corridor Railway

Minutes of the Meeting on Tuesday, 13 May 1997, at 8:30 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing

Members absent :

    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Public officers attending :

    Transport Branch

    Mr Gordon SIU,
    Secretary for Transport

    Miss Nancy LAW,
    Deputy Secretary for Transport

    Mrs Agnes Allcock,
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport

    Highways Department

    Mr C K MAK,
    Government Engineer/Railway Development

Attendance by invitation :


    Mr K Y YEUNG,
    Chairman and Chief Executive

    Mr James Blake,
    Senior Director, Capital Projects

    Mr Ian McPherson,
    Director, West Rail

    Mr Samuel LAI,
    Director, Finance

Clerk in attendance:

    Ms Estella CHAN,
    Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4

Staff in attendance :

    Mr Matthew LOO,
    Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4 (Atg)

I.Progress of the Technical Studies Programme

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1404(01)/96-97 provided by KCRC)

At the Chairman's invitation, Mr James Blake briefed members on the detailed progress and future plan of consultancy contracts under the Technical Studies Programme of the Western Corridor Railway (WCR) project. Among the 21 studies involved in the Programme, nine had commenced and were related to defining the railway alignment and resulting land requirements which were prerequisites to a formal land resumption programme. The remaining 12 studies would be on examining the various systems of WCR in detail. These studies, which were scheduled for completion in mid-1998, would provide about 25% of the full design and greater certainty for further design work. As regards initial planning of construction, Mr Blake advised that a multi-contract approach would be adopted and the works would be divided into different packages for design and construction. Detailed Design and separate Construction Contracts were planned for five principal civil work packages, whilst combined Design Build Contracts were planned for two contracts involving Tai Lam Tunnel and the tunnel between Mei Foo and Tsuen Wan. This arrangement would enable the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) to retain direct control over the design process. Design Build form of contract would also be used to facilitate the design of project-wide systems such as signalling which required highly developed and proprietary technology and significant design input from contractors. Construction would commence from the second half of 1998.

2. A member referred to the updated chart showing the schedule of the Technical Studies Programme and enquired whether the periods required for the subsequent phases of the first nine studies had been shortened except for the one for the Northern Section (TS-100). In response, Mr Blake advised that the subsequent phases represented the modified technical studies which would formulate the project specifications. These revised schedules were drawn up in accordance with consultants' advice and information gathered from initial phases of the studies. As regards the studies on automatic revenue collection (TS-1650) and auxiliary rolling stock (TS-2100) which had been deleted from the Technical Studies Programme, Mr Blake advised that the former would be conducted by KCRC as an in-house study, while the latter had been incorporated into another study on rolling stock (TS-1900).

3. In response to members' concern about the availability of land for the construction of WCR, the Secretary for Transport (S for T) advised that the Railways Bill which was being scrutinized by a Bills Committee would provide a legal framework under which land resumption for WCR would be achieved on target. He also assured members that the contractual claims for $1.9 billion in the Airport Railway project would not recur with the WCR project. Mr Blake advised that the multi-contract approach would maximize KCRC's ability to deal with the impact of land acquisition. With the adoption of separate Detailed Design and Construction Contracts for certain packages of the WCR project, progress would be maintained notwithstanding anticipated difficulties in land resumption. In response to a question, Mr Blake confirmed that KCRC would draw on relevant experience from the Tuen Mun Road Widening Project in drafting the Design Build Contracts, expecting there would be less uncertainties associated with these contracts than those had been the case for Tuen Mun Road .

4. Mr K Y YEUNG said that KCRC had proposed a new working arrangement for the Administration's consideration under which KCRC would carry out land investigations and surveys for the Lands Department. This close working relation with the Administration, which would assist in meeting programme needs, and supporting the land resumption process, would do much to minimise the problems due to delayed land resumption, as delay experienced in similar infrastructural projects adopting the fast track approach. He also advised that KCRC was recruiting a solicitor specialized in civil work and who would assist in the drafting of contracts. He agreed with a member's view that a second opinion on this specialized work was warranted.

5. A member reminded KCRC of the importance in commissioning suitable consultants for different types of works. For Detailed Design followed by Construction Contracts, the consultants might only act as a middle man between KCRC and contractors, while consultants for Design Build Contracts should assume the role of KCRC's in-house professionals. As regards a member's concern about monitoring of design work for the remaining 75% of the total design needed for the construction of the railway, Mr Blake affirmed that more supervision would be provided at that stage.

6. S for T assured members that the KCRC would complete 25% of the full design and be more certain with information such as the alignment of WCR by February 1998. The information would enable presentation of the project to the Governor in Council in February 1998, eventhough the whole Technical Studies Programme might not be completed by then. He remarked that the Administration would adopt the same approach with the Airport Railway project to oversee progress of the WCR project. KCRC

7. A member noted that a study on Intermodal Freight/ Freight Management System (TS-1150) would be completed by June 1997, and enquired if KCRC would report to the Subcommittee by that time. In response, Mr Blake advised that the study was highly technical in nature and it would provide mainly supplementary information to other studies of the Technical Studies Programme. Nevertheless, he undertook to provide a summary in suitable terms for members' reference in due course.

II.Recruitment of KCRC's 108 in-house professional and technical staff for the project

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1404(01)/96-97 provided by KCRC)

8. Referring to the information paper, Mr YEUNG advised that the 33 staff members for Railway Operations and Systems were required at this juncture for providing directions for the consultants in preparing for the specifications. They would not only ensure that the consultants' advice would be suitable for the operation of WCR, but would also facilitate the transfer of technology to KCRC. It was also important to have these fully trained staff to test the systems so as to facilitate the operation of WCR in future. Similar arrangements had been adopted in the planning and construction of the Mass Transit Railway. He also advised that the eight officers for Communications had been assisting KCRC and the Administration in consulting different parties including district boards and the two municipal councils on such issues as environmental impact of the project. A lot of comments were expected upon gazettal of the WCR project and the workload of these officers would increase drastically. He said that the only reason for transferring 20 administrative staff from Pacific Bechtel (Bechtel) was that the cost would be much lower if they were in-house KCRC staff. In essence, Mr YEUNG emphasized that all the 108 posts that would be filled by in-house KCRC staff were required at that stage and should be filled as soon as possible.

9. In response to a member, Mr YEUNG advised that the senior management staff of KCRC was recruited on the open market in a fair manner. No priority would be given to ex-civil servants but it was also inappropriate not to employ a suitable candidate for the reason that he was an ex-civil servant. Regarding the number of KCRC staff who were "ethnic Chinese" mentioned in the information paper, Mr YEUNG noted a member's comment that the term should be avoided because of its racist connotation.

10. On the criteria for inviting employees of Bechtel to transfer to KCRC, Mr Ian McPherson advised that incumbents of Bechtel who were local staff and employed on local contract terms would be invited to transfer. Otherwise, the posts would be filled by open recruitment. He also advised that among the 13 Bechtel staff invited to transfer to KCRC, two had resigned from Bechtel and their vacancies had to be filled through advertisement. Of the 35 Bechtel posts to be replaced by KCRC in-house staff, ten had been recruited.

11. As regards the duties of the Environmental Manager and two Environmental Specialists, Mr McPherson advised that these officers would compile environmental information such as those on noise and vibration impact to assist the work of various technical studies. They would also oversee and co-ordinate project-wide analysis conducted by consultants and present the results to relevant advisory councils. He clarified that environmental studies would be conducted for the northern, western, southern and central sections of WCR but the work was divided between the two Environmental Specialists. Mr YEUNG also affirmed the importance of these officers as the environmental impact of the WCR project would be the main concern of district boards and municipal councils.

12. A member noted that the Mass Transit Railway Corporation had a simpler managerial structure in comparison with the one proposed by KCRC for the West Rail Division, and enquired whether the staffing for the Technical Studies Programme could be further streamlined. In response, Mr YEUNG advised that the current proposal was already the minimum staffing requirement for the WCR project. He reminded members about the negotiation between KCRC and Bechtel to reduce the number of staff from 336 to 255.

III.Any other business

13. Members agreed that the Subcommittee would be held in abeyance until further notice.

14. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 9:40 a.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat

25 June 1997

Last Updated on 22 August 1998