Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ20: Railway reserved areas

     Following is a question by the Hon Kam Nai-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Legislative Council meeting today (December 16):


     According to the Report No. 50 of the Director of Audit, three government premises in different buildings, originally reserved as the MTR entrance/exit areas of the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL), have remained unused for a long period of time, the longest time being nearly 30 years. Moreover, it has recently been reported that a platform of the MTR Airport Express (Airport Express) Hong Kong Station has remained unused for 12 years since its completion. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a)  the respective numbers of unused government premises reserved to be used for developing railway facilities as well as unused MTR platforms and their details (including location, duration of and reasons for being unused, current conditions with the relevant photos, annual maintenance costs and other related expenses involved, original planned use and restrictions on use, future development planning, difficulties in changing the use as well as estimated accumulated economic losses so far); of the contents of the complaint cases concerning such unused premises and platforms received by the authorities concerned and the progress of the follow-up actions;

(b)  how the present daily patronage of the Airport Express Hong Kong Station as originally projected compares with the actual patronage at present; of the patronage level required for the commissioning of the aforesaid platform; and when the patronage is expected to reach such a level; and

(c)  whether MTRCL has any plan to change the use of the unused platform of the Airport Express Hong Kong Station, e.g. temporarily opening part of the platform for public use?



     The design of railway alignment and stations has to undergo a detailed planning process and will not be finalised until the railway scheme is authorised by the Executive Council. The purpose of making reserved areas for railway schemes prior to their finalisation is to minimise disruptions arising from the subsequent railway works, and the unnecessary disturbances and compensation arising from land resumption. If such areas are not reserved beforehand, implementation of the most optimal railway scheme may not be possible. This is certainly not in the public interest. The Government will scrutinise the railway reserved areas in order to ensure that these areas will suitably cope with the future railway development.

     My responses to the various parts of the question are as follows:

(a)  When planning the Hong Kong Island Line, the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) has reserved the MTR entrance/exit areas in the following six buildings:

(1) No. 121 King's Road
(2) No. 107-118 Connaught Road West
(3) No. 402-404 Des Voeux Road West
(4) No. 410-424 Des Voeux Road West
(5) No. 156-160 Des Voeux Road West
(6) No. 207/235 Des Voeux Road Central

     The section of the Hong Kong Island Line between Chai Wan and Sheung Wan was commissioned in 1985 while the design of the section between Sheung Wan and Kennedy Town (i.e. the West Island Line) was finalised in 2009. Among the aforesaid MTR reserved entrance/exit areas, Reserved Area (5) will be used as one of the entrance/exits of the Sai Ying Pun Station of the West Island Line. Please refer to the attached photographs showing the present conditions of these reserved entrance/exit areas.

     Reserved Areas (1), (2) and (3) mentioned above are government premises.  Throughout the period when these areas are owned by the Government, we have spent a total amount of $1,000, $4,500 and $30,000 respectively on maintenance and other related expenses, which were mainly used for changing the hoarding, dewatering and pest control, etc. For Reserved Area (3), the Government is following up with the Incorporated Owners of the building on the problem of the waterproof layer of the reserved area at the basement. As for the remaining two reserved areas, there is no outstanding complaint that needs to be addressed. As regards Reserved Areas (4), (5) and (6), they are still privately owned. These reserved areas have been included in the land grant conditions imposed by the Government.

     According to the land grants and other related legal documents, the reserved areas mentioned above are limited to be used for MTR station entrance/exits, but not for other uses. While we are considering the use of these reserved areas as the entrance/exits of railway stations in their vicinity, the relevant government departments will also consider the change of use of the reserved areas for other beneficial purposes. However, the feasibility of such change of use will involve many complicated considerations, including the compliance with the requirements of the Buildings Ordinance, the provisions in the Deed of Mutual Covenant of the relevant buildings, technical restrictions of the associated building structures, etc. We shall take all these factors into consideration in the current feasibility study for the change of use of the above reserved areas.

(b)  Like other infrastructure developments, railway projects are usually planned for 50-year long operation periods. Yet, short term projections are likely to be affected by the overall social and economical factors as well as the rate of development in the region. The Airport Express is one of the major transport modes between the Hong Kong International Airport and urban areas. Since the opening of the Hong Kong International Airport in 1998, Hong Kong has experienced several financial crises as a result of unforeseeable international economic turmoil. The projected population and economic growth in Hong Kong have changed as well. The Airport Express has also faced fierce competition from other public transport modes. In 2008, the average daily patronage of the Airport Express was 29,000. For the Airport Express at the Hong Kong Station, the trains are currently using the same platform for arrival and departure.

     As the Hong Kong Station is situated within the central business district, further construction works for a second platform at a later date will inevitably cause inconvenience to the local community. And, the construction works will also have a substantial impact on the daily operation of the existing railway. Therefore, a second platform has been constructed at the time of constructing the Airport Express. At present, the tracks of the second platform in the Hong Kong Station are used for temporary stabling of spare trains to meet special train service requirements.

     When the train frequency is increased from the current 5 trains per hour to 7 trains per hour or more, the second platform will be required for the operation.

(c)  The MTRCL has considered alternative uses of the second platform of the Airport Express at the Hong Kong Station temporarily. However, the second platform is within the paid zone. When taking into account the land use restrictions, the costs of additional building and fitting out works, etc, the MTRCL thus considered the second platform was not suitable for other uses.

Ends/Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Issued at HKT 17:40


Print this page