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ExCo approves implementation of Shatin to Central Link scheme

     The Chief Executive in Council today (March 27) approved the implementation of the Shatin to Central Link (SCL) scheme.

     The SCL is one of the 10 major infrastructure projects announced by the Chief Executive in his Policy Address in October 2007.

     The SCL will be a 17-kilometre long railway with 10 stations at Tai Wai, Hin Keng, Diamond Hill, Kai Tak, To Kwa Wan, Ma Tau Wai, Ho Man Tin, Hung Hom, northern Wan Chai and Admiralty. The Tai Wai to Hung Hom section, which connects the Ma On Shan Line with the West Rail Line, will allow passengers to travel directly from Wu Kai Sha Station to East Kowloon, New Territories West and Tuen Mun without interchanging. The Hung Hom to Admiralty section, which is an extension of the East Rail Line across the Harbour to Hong Kong Island, will allow passengers from Lo Wu or Huanggang to reach the heart of Hong Kong Island directly.  

     A government spokesman said the SCL project will not only increase the capacity of the existing railways and alleviate the congestion of existing railway lines, in particular, the Tai Wai to Kowloon Tong section of the East Rail Line and the harbour-crossing section of the Tsuen Wan Line, but will also extend the railway service to Kai Tak, To Kwa Wan and Ma Tau Wai areas of the southeast Kowloon.  

     He said, "The SCL will serve the purpose of linking up the existing and future railway lines through the provision of six interchange stations, thus allowing a faster and more convenient interchange arrangement. Passengers will be able to travel from Tai Wai to Diamond Hill in five minutes, from Tai Wai to Admiralty in 17 minutes, and from Hung Hom to Admiralty also in about five minutes, which is faster than by using existing railway lines or buses. It is estimated that the SCL will carry about 1.1 million passengers per day in 2021, and the average travel-time saving will reach 75 million hours per year. The new railway will generate economic benefits of $4.4 billion in terms of time saving to passengers in 2021 and will help promote the overall development in Hong Kong.

     "The Government and the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) have been conducting extensive public consultation on the project since mid 2008. The  local stakeholders concerned, including a total of 11 District Councils, were briefed on the proposed railway scheme. Roving exhibitions, public forums, school talks, and other public consultation activities have been held to collect views and suggestions from the local communities. During the consultation, the public have all along been urging for the early implementation of the project," he added.

     The SCL railway scheme was first gazetted on November 26, 2010.  Following receipt of objections, the Government and the MTRCL carefully studied the grounds for objections, met the objectors to explain the railway scheme and addressed their concerns. The Administration has introduced, as far as practicable, appropriate amendments in response to the views and concerns of the public. Two amendment exercises were made and gazetted on July 15 and November 11, 2011 respectively. Hearing sessions by independent panels consisting of non-official members were conducted for the unwithdrawn objections. All unwithdrawn objections were also submitted to the Executive Council for consideration.

     "The MTRCL will continue to communicate closely with the community in the course of implementing the SCL, and will establish community liaison groups comprising representatives of the concerned and affected parties, including owners' corporations, owners' committees, management offices and local communities, etc. In addition, the MTRCL will have to comply with the conditions set out in the Environmental Permit issued by the Director of Environmental Protection to keep disturbance to the environment to the minimum," the spokesman added.

     Implementation of the SCL could create around 16 000 jobs, which will help improve the overall employment situation.

     The SCL will be implemented under the concession approach. Funding for the construction of SCL railway stations and railway facilities at Ho Man Tin and Admiralty as SCL advance works was approved by the Legislative Council (LegCo) Finance Committee in February 2011. Funding for carrying out protection works under the Wan Chai Development Phase II and the Central-Wan Chai Bypass projects was also approved by the LegCo Finance Committee in July 2010 and June 2011 respectively. Construction of these advance works and protection works has commenced.

     In consideration of the upward trend in construction prices, the need to address suggestions put forward by stakeholders and optimise the design of the SCL with regard to the actual circumstances in the course of the detailed design, the Government will have to seek funding approval from the LegCo for the construction cost of the remaining SCL main works (both railway works and non-railway works) at $57.3 billion (in September 2011 prices). Including the approved funding for the advance works and protection works, the overall construction cost for the SCL is estimated at $64.9 billion (in September 2011 prices).

     "We have kick-started the funding application process for the main works of the SCL and aim at securing funding approval from the LegCo before the summer recess so as to enable commencement of the works by the middle of this year," the spokesman said.

     Construction of the SCL is scheduled to commence in mid-2012. The Tai Wai to Hung Hom section is expected to be completed by 2018 and the Hung Hom to Admiralty section by 2020.

Ends/Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:24


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