20 February 2019
MTR has seen another of its projects face construction delays, adding to the criticism on the rail operator. Photo: HKEJ
MTR has seen another of its projects face construction delays, adding to the criticism on the rail operator. Photo: HKEJ

MTR’s woes mount as West Island Line suffers delays

The West Island Line, an extension of MTR Corp’s existing Island Line commuter rail link in Hong Kong, has seen its plans get affected due to problems in constructing an underground passenger exit at the Sai Ying Pun station.  

The excavation work at Sai Ying Pun is taking longer than expected due to ground conditions there, leading to potential delays in the rail link’s opening. 

An MTR official, however, said the line can still open in December as trains can skip the Sai Ying Pun station stop temporarily until the problems there are resolved.

Mark Cuzner, general manager for the West Island Line and South Island Line of MTR, said the contingency plan is pending discussion between the government and the railway operator, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday.

But if the proposal is deemed not feasible, the launch of the new subway line may be postponed to the first quarter of next year. The schedule will be finalized and announced in October.

The West Island Line runs from Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town, with stops at Sai Ying Pun and Hong Kong University. Construction work at one of the passenger exits at Sai Ying Pun station has slowed because of soft ground.

Great care is required during implementation of the works, Cuzner said, adding that the rail operator is using a ground freezing method to excavate some of the underground passageways. However, the progress is slow and time-consuming.

Cuzner said the company has informed the government over the past few weeks on the progress of the excavation and construction at Sai Ying Pun, which was found to be “very tight” compared with the original schedule.

The Transport and Housing Bureau said in a statement Thursday that it was informed by MTR a week ago on the possible delay.

Democratic Party lawmaker Sin Chung-kai said the disclosure on the potential postponement has come too late.

The latest development will only add to MTR’s woes after the earlier problems at its other projects. 

The railway company has recently been accused of covering up delays in the construction of the Hong Kong section of the Hong Kong-Guangzhou high-speed rail link, as well as the eastern link of the South Island Line in the city.

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