A Hong Kong plan to revive a shelved rail project joining airports in the city and Shenzhen has sparked claims that it could be a “white elephant”, delivering little return on investment and only benefiting Shenzhen’s Qianhai New Area, am730 reported Friday.
The 41-kilometer Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Express Line scheme was first aired in 2009 during the administration of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. But the government later abandoned the idea after a study found it would be too expensive and Shenzhen had more to gain from it than Hong Kong.
Shenzhen officials have been pushing for the line since then and the project could go on the front burner as soon as 2018 as delays mount on the Hong Kong-Guangzhou high-speed rail line.
Hong Kong is expected to include the line in its 2020 railway development blueprint due out by the end of the year, according to unidentified sources.
Albert Lai Kwong-tak, founding chairman and policy convener of Professional Commons, questioned the potential passenger throughput of the express line because not many people travel between the airports. Lai said the line would benefit Qianhai and its ambitions to become a financial center, but there would be few economic gains for Hong Kong because the line doesn’t cross populous areas.
Michael Tien Puk-sun, legislator and former chairman of rail group KCRC, said the express line would definitely cost more than HK$100 billion (US$12.9 billion) to build but it would help Hong Kong airport become a transit hub between mainland and overseas destinations. He suggested construction not begin until 2021 after issues around the high-speed rail project are settled.
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