The government will begin large-scale renovation works on the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator and Walkway System in March, the first-such major overhaul of the landmark infrastructure facility since it was inaugurated 24 years ago.
The total cost of the planned makeover of the system is projected to be around HK$128 million, in the project that will last four years until 2022.
According to the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), renovation of the escalator-walkway system is necessary because many of the components it currently uses are aged and there is a risk of not being able to find spare components to replace them once they malfunction, making maintenance more difficult.
Relevant government documents also point out that the system has exceeded its service life and therefore could have adverse impact in terms of economic costs unless it is upgraded, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Given the fact that its failure rates and maintenance costs keep rising, there is need for complete renovation, including all of its 16 reversible one-way escalators and three reversible one-way travelators.
Opened to the public in October 1993, the more-than-800-meter-long Central-Mid-Levels Escalator and Walkway System is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world.
Providing a unique mode of transport, it links up the Central business district to residential areas in the Mid-Levels through a network of escalators and travelators.
Used by about 78,000 people every day, it is also one of 17 “Explore Old Town Central” routes designed for tourists by the Tourism Board.
Under the plan, renovation work will be conducted in 11 phases that cover different sections of the system from Mid-Levels downward. Service for the section under work will be suspended, with advance notifications given to affected building owners, store operators and residents.
Leaflets will also be distributed to citizens nearby one week before each construction phase begins.
The first phase, which will begin on March 1, will cover the section between Conduit Road and Robinson Road.
The EMSD said it plans to shorten the construction period for each phase to four to five months from the originally planned six months, so that the project completion can be advanced to 2022 from 2023.
The escalators that will be installed used to replace the old ones will be equipped with an energy-saving function. They will only move when they detect, through sensors, the entry of people.
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