20 February 2019
A survey of a Song dynasty well could cause costly delays to the Shatin-Central line. Photo: Xinhua
A survey of a Song dynasty well could cause costly delays to the Shatin-Central line. Photo: Xinhua

Ancient well risks turning Shatin-Central line into money pit

MTR Corp. said work on the Shatin-Central rail link will be delayed by an extension to an archaeological survey for a site along the planned line, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported Tuesday.

The survey was originally due to be completed in December but will be extended to the third quarter due to the discovery of a Song dynasty well at the planned site of the To Kwa Wan station. 

Highways Department senior engineer Wong Wai-kwong told Kowloon City Council that the well is in the spot where the tunnel boring machine needs to operate, and the government, which is bearing the full cost of the line, would face expensive claims from contractors as a result of any delays. 

The department warned that each day of delayed construction would cost millions of dollars, and it urged the MTR to ensure the project is completed in 2018 as scheduled.

But some interest groups argue that the priority now should be on defining the area of preservation, and it is too early to talk about construction delays.

Albert Lai, chairman of the independent The Professional Commons, said the planned To Kwa Wan station is not a key stop and the MTR should be able to find a solution because such major engineering projects usually factor in a buffer against delays.

Professor Siu Kwok-kin, vice president of the Hong Kong Archaeology Society, said that ideally the ancient well should be preserved but the city also has to balance the needs of urban development.

MTR senior liaison engineer Kelvin Wu said it was largely unfeasible for the rail operator to change plans for the line to preserve the well because it would make the project much longer.

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