Date
24 May 2017
Building a massive glass ceiling at the West Kowloon Terminus could be the cause of further delay. Photo: MTR Corp.
Building a massive glass ceiling at the West Kowloon Terminus could be the cause of further delay. Photo: MTR Corp.

High-speed rail to be delayed further until 2018: Lawmaker

Completion of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Guangzhou high-speed rail project could be delayed by another year until 2018, Ming Pao Daily reported Friday, citing legislator Michael Tien Puk-sun.

MTR Corp. (00066.HK) projected in July last year an already delayed completion date of 2017. 

Tien, who heads the Legislative Council’s railways subcommittee, said the new delay is mainly the result of concern that the massive glass ceiling designed for the West Kowloon Terminus might not be strong enough to withstand a strong typhoon.

He said a remedy for the problem is being discussed.

The Highways Department told legislators in early May that the project’s continuing failure to keep to its schedule could make the 2017 target infeasible.

Meanwhile, a deadlock remains over whether the extra cost of the project should be borne by MTR Corp. or the government.

Tien has said he might propose resorting to the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance — the so-called prerogative law — to look into the issue.

He had suggested that MTR Corp. forgo collection of a management fee of HK$4.59 billion (US$592.1 million) but the railway operator and property developer — which is largely owned by the Hong Kong government — rejected the idea, saying it had made no serious mistakes during construction.

While MTR Corp. said in its projection in July last year the total cost of the project would rise by HK$6.5 billion to HK$71.52 billion, Tien said he was aware the overrun could in fact reach HK$25 billion and take the total to nearly HK$90 billion.

MTR Corp. is holding a special board meeting Friday to discuss issues regarding the cost and the construction schedule of the project, the newspaper said, citing internal sources.

A spokesman for the firm said those issues are under review and an evaluation report will be completed by the end of this month before it is submitted to the government.

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TL/AC/FL

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