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LCQ8: EFLS in Energizing Kowloon East

     Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 27):


     Regarding the environmentally friendly linkage system (EFLS) in the Energizing Kowloon East initiative, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that apart from the proposed monorail, the authorities have included other environmentally friendly modes of transport in their scope of studies, of the details of these modes of transport in terms of costs, transport efficiency, operating and maintenance expenses, economic internal rate of return, future development flexibility and accessibility to the various districts within Kowloon East;

(b) given that the relevant feasibility study does not recommend the extension of EFLS to some old developed districts in Kowloon East, including To Kwa Wan, Kowloon City and San Po Kong, and one of the reasons is that while the anticipated patronage for the said branch extensions is relatively low, the additional construction costs incurred will be very high, whether the authorities, having regard to this problem, have studied other environmentally friendly modes of transport which may be available for use by the residents of these old districts and are also economically efficient; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) whether it knows which other places have monorail systems, and how these monorail systems compare with one another in terms of costs, efficiency, operating and maintenance expenses, economic internal rate of return and development flexibility; and

(d) of the estimated annual operating and maintenance expenses of the proposed monorail system?



     In his 2011-12 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that we would adopt a visionary, co-ordinated and integrated approach to transform Kowloon East, comprising the Kai Tak Development (KTD) Area, the former industrial areas of Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay, into an attractive central business district (CBD) to sustain Hong Kong's long-term economic development.  To achieve this goal, the infrastructure works within the district should be well-planned for enhancing connectivity.  Befitting Kowloon East CBD's green vision and development strategies, the proposed EFLS as a transport mode with low carbon emission will enhance inter-district and intra-district connectivity of Kowloon East.

     In December 2011, we briefed the Panel on Development of the Legislative Council on the Government's new initiative on transforming Kowloon East into a CBD, including a two-stage public consultation exercise to be commenced for soliciting public views on the EFLS proposal.  The Stage 1 public consultation commenced in February 2012 and the Panel on Development was consulted in April 2012.  Views collected at the Stage 1 public consultation will be analysed and reported to relevant stakeholders at the Stage 2 public consultation, which will be conducted in end 2012, with a view to arriving at a consensus reflecting the majority of public views on the way forward for the EFLS.

     My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(a) The Kai Tak Outline Zoning Plan approved in November 2007 has contained a reserve for an elevated rail-based environmentally friendly transport system as a long term transport mode subject to detailed investigation.  In December 2009, we commissioned the consultants to study the feasibility of providing the EFLS in the form of elevated rail line.  Apart from the proposed monorail, the EFLS feasibility study has also examined rubber-tyred Automatic People Mover (APM).  The passenger capacity, construction cost, operating and maintenance expenses of both monorail and APM are of similar order, though the APM would cause more visual impact and blockage to daylight/ventilation.  To tie in with the completion of the cruise terminal and public housing development in 2013, the study has also preliminarily examined the applicability of other road-based green public transport modes for KTD Area, including the supercapacitor bus, battery-electric bus and hybrid bus.  On the other hand, the bus companies are now arranging to conduct pilot schemes on these different types of green buses in order to ascertain their suitability for use in Hong Kong.  Road-based green buses will offer an advantage of lower procurement cost and running cost as well as higher flexibility for route planning and modification, but will occupy or share road space thus having lower transport efficiency and adding pressure to the already busy road network in districts adjoining KTD.  In response to the public suggestions solicited during the Stage 1 public consultation, we will further look into other technical aspects of the road-based green public transport modes such as traffic impact, land use and cost implications.  Relevant information will be made available for public consideration during the Stage 2 public consultation.  

(b) The study suggests not extending the EFLS to To Kwa Wan, Kowloon City and San Po Kong.  The major factors in consideration of penetrating the elevated monorail into the old residential areas are the complicated technical difficulties and constraints of topographical environment, including the noise and visual impacts on the residential areas, concerns about intrusion of privacy of the premises, etc.  To enhance the connectivity between KTD and To Kwa Wan, Kowloon City and San Po Kong, the study suggests extending some of the existing bus routes via Prince Edward Road East to KTD as well as fourteen items of proposed/enhanced footbridges, subways and at-grade pedestrian crossings.

(c) There are quite a number of monorails in use in the overseas cities, for example, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia (opened in 2003), Las Vegas in the United States (opened in 2004), Moscow in Russia (opened in 2004), Sentosa in Singapore (opened in 2007) and Palm Jumeirah in Dubai (opened in 2009).  We do not have information about the capital investment, operating and maintenance expenses and financial performance for the above overseas monorails.  Given the differences in topographical environment, social factor and implementation timeframe, it would be unable to compare the construction cost, operating and maintenance expenses and financial performance of the proposed EFLS with the above overseas monorails on a like-with-like basis.

(d) According to the preliminary estimation in the EFLS feasibility study, assuming that the fare structure for the EFLS is similar to that for the Mass Transit Railway and excluding the replacement costs for electrical/mechanical facilities and rolling stock, the revenue could cover the operating and maintenance expenses of the EFLS.  As the detailed feasibility study has yet to proceed and there is no local operating data for the monorail, the annual operating and maintenance expenses of the EFLS could only be broadly estimated to be in the range from $18 to $23 million per kilometre of rail length at 2010 price level.  The actual figure will be subject to the final design and the operating situation.

Ends/Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:48


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