Hong Kong may hire operators other than MTR Corp. Ltd. to run railway lines proposed under a newly released master plan, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Thursday.
The government may consider different business models in deciding how the new lines should be operated and by whom, a spokesman for the Transport and Housing Bureau was quoted as saying.
The move might help break the MTR’s monopoly in the operation of the territory’s rail system, the report said.
The spokesman stressed that for the extension of existing lines, the MTR will be given the right of first refusal in order to achieve synergy.
For the new lines, the MTR will only take care of the construction, but the ownership and operation will have to be discussed, he said.
The rail operator’s ability in managing and operating the new lines will have to be assessed if it is interested in taking up the role, Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said.
Under the new railway development plan, seven rail projects will be launched. These are the East Kowloon line, South Island line (western part), North Island line, Northern Link and Kwu Tung station, Tung Chung West extension, Tuen Mun South line extension, and an additional station at Hung Shui Kiu, between the West Rail Tin Shui Wai station and Siu Hong station.
The whole plan, together with the existing railway network, will cover 75 percent of the city’s population. It is estimated to cost a combined HK$110 billion (US$14.19 billion).
Both the government and the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union said they expect labor shortage problems to be resolved by the time the seven projects begin in 2018, when only the Shatin to Central Link would still remain under construction according to the current schedule, the report said.
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