Hong Kong's ambitious $300 billion rail and road infrastructure programme will create more than 40,000 job opportunities in the next five years.
Secretary for Transport, Mr Nicholas Ng said this today (October 13) at a joint press conference with the Secretary for Works to provide details of Government's overall efforts not only to boost the economy and job opportunities, but also to promote Hong Kong's long term prosperity.
"This massive investment represents more than half of the overall investment of $600 billion that Government and the two railway corporations will make on infrastructure in Hong Kong," he said.
The investment includes about $200 billion for 12 railway projects, and more than $100 billion for road projects.
"Transport infrastructure will account for 30 per cent of the government's own committed capital works programme," Mr Ng said.
"Our action agenda encompasses an ambitious expansion programme for the railway, the most efficient and environmentally friendly mass carrier. We will work towards the completion of six rail projects by 2007, expanding the existing network by 40 per cent to over 200 kilometres.
"The projects involve a total investment of $100 billion, and will mean spending about $57 billion and creating about 7,000 job opportunities within the next five years," Mr Ng explained.
Mr Ng added that the above plan would bring rail services to Tseung Kwan O next year, and to Yuen Long/Tuen Mun in 2003.
"We will also see the extension of the East Rail to Ma On Shan and Tsim Sha Tsui in 2004. The timely completion of the Penny's Bay Rail Link in 2005 will bring visitors to the Hong Kong Disneyland, and the Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line to be completed by 2007 will make possible a new rail passenger boundary crossing.
"Upon completion of the six railways, population within rail catchment will be increased from about 50% to 65%, while employment catchment will increase from 65% to 70%," he said.
There are also plans to build another six railways by 2016, which will expand the network to over 250 kilometres, costing another $100 billion.
"We are assessing respective proposals from the two Railway Corporations on the Shatin to Central Link, Island Line Extensions and Kowloon Southern Link. These three projects will create about 20,000 job opportunities.
Preliminary planning has started on the Regional Express Line, which will provide express rail service linking the urban area with the boundary. It will also link up with the Mainland's railway network. This will cut by half the journey time taken within Hong Kong to about 15 minutes. We will be discussing with the Mainland authorities concerned on the project.
Mr Ng added that KCRC was also studying the Port Rail Line jointly with its Mainland business counterparts. As regards the Northern Link, Mr Ng revealed that its planning and construction will coincide with the development in North West New Territories.
Mr Ng said that these three longer-term projects would create about 13,000 job opportunities.
About 70 per cent of the population and 80 per cent of the employment will be within rail catchment when all the 12 railways are completed.
As for road projects, in the next 10 years, there will be construction and improvement of over 100 kilometres of strategic roads, including Route 9 linking Tsing Yi and Shatin, Route 10 linking Tuen Mun and North Lantau, the Shenzhen Western Corridor and Deep Bay Link. The programme will cost a total of more than $100 billion and create about 20,000 job opportunities.
"I am optimistic that the rail and road projects will give a strong impetus to the economy, and will better prepare Hong Kong for the challenges ahead," Mr Ng said.
End/ Saturday, October 13, 2001