Date
23 August 2017
There is a 67 percent chance that the current cost estimate of HK$71.5 billion for the high-speed rail link will be exceeded, the experts said. Photo: HKEJ
There is a 67 percent chance that the current cost estimate of HK$71.5 billion for the high-speed rail link will be exceeded, the experts said. Photo: HKEJ

High-speed rail link may face further cost overruns, experts say

The high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and Guangzhou could face further cost overruns, according to an expert report commissioned by the MTR Corporation, RTHK said.

Two independent experts said there is a 67 percent chance that the current cost estimate of HK$71.5 billion (US$9.2 billion) will be exceeded. In fact, the latest estimate is already HK$6.5 billion above the previous projection.

The report, however, does not give its own estimate or say how serious the overruns will be.

The experts also said there is only a 69 percent chance that the project will be completed in 2017, which contradicts the MTR project team’s projection that there is a 90 percent chance it will be completed before that year ends.

The rail link was originally scheduled to finish next year.

The experts said the major risks for the project involve cooperation between MTR and relevant parties. For example, the design of the West Kowloon terminal needs the approval of customs and immigration authorities on both sides of the border.

“We have adopted the recommendations submitted by the experts and would put them into practice,” said MTR chairman Raymond Chien Kuo-fung.

He declined to comment on the specific contingency funding for the project.

Nevertheless, he stressed that MTR would apply with the Legislative Council for additional contingency funding, which is aimed at preventing further cost overruns.

“We have signed an entrustment agreement with the government, and we would introduce specific oversight mechanism to ensure additional funding won’t be wasted,” Chien said.

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JZ/JP/CG

Freelance journalist

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