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LCQ1: Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link

     Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Legislative Council meeting today (November 25):


     The Government plans to seek in the near future funding approval from the Finance Committee of this Council for the construction of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) and intends to locate the terminus in West Kowloon, while the West Kowloon Terminus (WKT) will extend into part of the underground area of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  whether the Government has conducted any assessment regarding the impact of WKT on the traffic of Yau Tsim Mong District; if it has, of the respective estimated volume/capacity ratios of the main roads in the vicinity (including Austin Road, Jordan Road, Lin Cheung Road, Nathan Road, Canton Road, Kowloon Park Drive, Ferry Street and West Kowloon Highway) after the Hong Kong Section of the XRL has been completed for 5, 10 and 15 years;

(b)  of the total land area to be occupied by the works of the Hong Kong Section of the XRL for site purposes and the duration of such occupation, together with a table listing out the respective surface and underground areas in WKCD to be occupied permanently and temporarily for the aforesaid works, as well as the duration of occupation for each part of land; whether it has assessed if the works of the Hong Kong Section of the XRL will affect the overall planning and design of WKCD, slow down the construction of the cultural facilities within the district, and thus increase the construction costs of such facilities; if it has, of the assessment results; and

(c)  given that WKT will be located in part of the underground area of WKCD, whether the Government needs to install additional noise barriers in the connecting underground area for the cultural facilities to be constructed on the relevant surface area in the future, so that users of the facilities would not be affected by the noise of running XRL trains; if so, of the details and expenditure involved; if not, how the WKCD Authority will resolve the noise problem?

Reply :


     The Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Link (XRL) will link up Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou with significantly reduced journey time. More importantly, it will become part of the 16,000 km national high-speed rail network now being developed in full steam, fostering closer economic ties between Hong Kong and the Mainland. The XRL plays an unparallelled role in driving our economic development in the long term.

     The terminus of the Hong Kong section of the XRL will be located in West Kowloon, which is in the proximity of most commercial, retail, hotel and residential districts and well served by existing and planned railway and road networks. Around 30% of the Hong Kong population reside and almost half of the workforce work within five kilometres from the West Kowloon Terminus (WKT). Passengers may efficiently and conveniently proceed from their origins to the WKT or from the WKT to their final destinations. The location of the WKT can attract more travellers to use the XRL, maximising the economic benefit of the rail link.  The Administration has developed an overall plan to improve the traffic condition in the West Kowloon Area. In addition, relevant government departments will continue to work closely with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), so as to maximise the synergy between the XRL and the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD).

     As regards the three parts of the question raised by the Honorary Member, my reply is as follows:

(1)  To better tie in with the development in the West Kowloon district, the Transport Department completed the "West Kowloon Reclamation Development Traffic Study" (the Study) in 2009. The purpose of the Study was to improve the road and pedestrian connection in the West Kowloon district, and to tackle the congestion in some of the junctions, with a view to meeting the increasing traffic demand arising from the entire West Kowloon New Development Area (WKNDA), including the WKCD, and the commissioning of the WKT.

     The design philosophy of the Study is to segregate inter-district and local traffic by a three-layered road network (one at-grade layer, and two underground layers). Such design connects the local network directly to major roads in the region (e.g. West Kowloon Highway, West Kowloon Corridor, West Harbour Crossing, and the future Central Kowloon Route), ensuring smooth inter-district and local traffic flow.

     Major road improvement works suggested in the Study include the following:

*constructing of an underpass connecting Austin Road West (near Canton Road) and Lin Cheung Road (north of Jordan Road), with a view to segregate inter-district and local road traffic and providing an unobstructed access to WKCD, WKT and Airport Express Kowloon Station;

*improving the Austin Road/ Canton Road junction, including consideration on constructing the Canton Road Underpass and extending the existing subway system; and

*implementing other improvement works which link the WKNDA directly to the nearby highways, so as to alleviate the burden on local road network.  

     Local traffic management schemes will also be implemented to address the current traffic congestion problems along Jordan Road and Canton Road.

     Currently, the capacities of several major junctions in the West Kowloon district are saturated, or close to saturation at peak hours. The improvement works described above have already taken into account traffic demand arising from the XRL, the WKCD and other developments in the district. It is estimated that most of them will be in place by 2015. The traffic pressure in the district would be relieved, with reserved capacity at most junctions remaining at above 10% at all times up to 2031.

(2)  Regarding strategic synergy, locating the terminus of the Hong Kong section of the XRL right next to WKCD enables the two projects to complement each other. Capitalising on the travelling convenience brought about by the XRL, more visitors from the Pearl River Delta region will be attracted to take part in the cultural and arts activities in WKCD. In return, WKCD will boost the XRL patronage, thereby enhancing the cost-effectiveness of the rail link. Complementing each other and being developed in a coordinated manner, the two projects will create synergy, bringing greater benefits to the economy of Hong Kong. In fact, the consultants of the WKCDA concur that there will great synergy for placing the terminus of the Hong Kong section of the XRL next to the WKCD. They will take this into account when developing the master layout plan for the WKCD, in order to maximise such benefit.

     The 3.3-hectare (ha) underground extension of the WKT into WKCD provides a convenient access to the WKCD by XRL passengers. Integrating the XRL into the WKCD will greatly enhance the prominence of the former as the gateway to Mainland China and the latter as a regional cultural hub. The Tourism Commission envisages that proper integration of the two will help generate more visits to the proposed arts, cultural and tourism facilities in the WKCD, thereby promoting cultural tourism.

     As for coordination during the construction stage, we have been in constant dialogue with the WKCDA to coordinate the works of both projects. According to the current planning, part of the land at the WKCD will be used as temporary works sites of the XRL project from December 2009 to late 2014. Arrangement can be made to return the sites in phases from early 2012 to facilitate Phase 1 development of the WKCD. The latest forecast suggests that works areas occupied by the XRL project will be gradually reduced from not more than 14 ha in December 2009 to around 3 ha at the end of 2014. We will maintain close contact and co-ordination with WKCDA and ensure the timely completion of both the Hong Kong section of the XRL and Phase 1 development of WKCD in 2015.

     As regards the transport planning, the master planning and design of the WKCD is still at its stage of drawing up the master layout plan. On one hand, we take the opportunities of implementing the WKT to design and construct as early as possible the roads and pedestrian facilities around the WKT and the WKCD, with a view to commissioning these facilities in tandem with Phase 1 of the WKCD. On the other hand, we have designed the facilities with good flexibility to better cater for the future creative planning of the WKCD. For instance, in respect of the connection points for roads and pedestrian facilities, we will endeavour to provide a wide range of options. This offers WKCD more planning and design latitude as a whole.

     The Home Affairs Bureau has established a standing inter-departmental coordinating committee led by a senior directorate officer and with participation of representatives from the Transport and Housing Bureau, Highways Department and Transport Department, etc. The committee coordinates the planning of the WKCD and its nearby infrastructural projects, including the planning and construction of the XRL project, to ensure that these projects can be implemented smoothly, maximising the synergy and minimising the impact on one another.

(3)  The WKT platforms will be extended into the WKCD, taking up about 3.3 ha of strata, which is less than 10% of its area. The planning of the rest of the WKCD will not be affected by the XRL project at all.

     The current planning assumption is to allow medium-rise structures up to 70 metres above Principal Datum (i.e. about 15-20 storeys) to be built in this 3.3-ha area. Enabling works, which include those for the foundation, noise and vibration mitigation and the transfer plate (including isolated slab track), will be carried out in the strata of the extension area under the Hong Kong section of the XRL. The ground-borne noise generated from vibration will comply with the standards stipulated in the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance and the Noise Control Ordinance. Similar measures have been used for the superstructure development of other railway stations and the result is satisfactory.

Ends/Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Issued at HKT 18:55


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