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LCQ12: Works progress of the Hong Kong section of the XRL

     Following is a question by the Hon Tony Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (April 30):


     The Secretary for Transport and Housing (the Secretary) said on the 15th of this month that, based on the progress update provided by the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) in relation to the project to construct the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL project), the targets as at the end of last year remained to be that the construction works would be completed in 2015 as originally scheduled and then, after a period of six to nine months for testing and trial runs, the rail service would be officially commissioned. However, MTRCL notified the Secretary on the 12th of this month that the XRL project would be subject to some delay and it would not be possible for the works to be completed in 2015. The Secretary said that he was "totally caught by surprise" by such information. According to the information released by MTRCL on the 15th of this month, completion of the XRL project will be delayed to 2016, and the rail service will not be commissioned until 2017 after testing and trial runs. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows, based on the latest assessment, the official commissioning date of the XRL Hong Kong Section; whether it has assessed the impacts of the delay of the XRL project on the overall cost of the project as well as on the economy and overall development of Hong Kong; if it has assessed, of the outcome and the corresponding measures to be taken by the authorities;

(2) whether it has reviewed if the existing monitoring system is unable to make the Government aware earlier of the delay in the XRL project; if it has reviewed, of the outcome; whether the Government will comprehensively review and adjust the monitoring system; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) whether the Government had in the past verified all the information on the XRL project (including results of works progress assessments) submitted to it by MTRCL; if it had, of the method and findings of the verification, and whether it had imposed any penalties when it found that the information was incorrect and the corresponding measures taken; if it had not verified, the reasons for that, and whether it will step up the verification efforts in the future; how it ensures that MTRCL will not delay notifying the Government of the latest information on works progress or conceal such information from the Government; and

(4) given that the Secretary said that he had instructed the Director of Highways to conduct an independent review and assessment on the delay of the XRL project, of the specific areas covered by such review and assessment, the relevant details, the expected time of completion and submission of report, and whether the Government will make public the relevant report?



     My consolidated reply to the four parts of Hon Tony Tse's question is as follows:

     The Government has entrusted the construction of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) to the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL). Construction works commenced in January 2010. The Government has all along been monitoring work progress through the Railway Development Office of the Highways Department and the established Project Supervision Committee as well as the relevant monitoring mechanisms, and has regularly reported the construction progress of the Hong Kong section of the XRL to the Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways (RSC) of the Legislative Council (LegCo).

     Since last year, we have repeatedly expressed various concerns to the MTRCL on the works progress of the Hong Kong section of the XRL. Discussions have been held with MTRCL and MTRCL has all along explained that suitable measures will be implemented to ensure the timely completion of the construction of the Hong Kong section of the XRL. On November 22 last year, we reported the construction progress to the RSC. Based on the information provided by MTRCL and having discussed in detail with MTRCL, we informed the LegCo that our target was to complete the works for the Hong Kong section of the XRL in 2015. Thereafter, testing and trial runs which would usually take six to nine months would be conducted before the commissioning of the Hong Kong section of the XRL. This had remained our target and MTRCL had all along stressed that works had been planned to meet this target. On April 12 and 13 this year, I was informed by the Chief Executive Officer and the Chairman of MTRCL respectively that, based on the latest assessment of the progress of the works, it would not be possible to complete the construction of the Hong Kong section of the XRL by 2015; and the completion date would be postponed to 2016. With the time required for testing and trial runs to ensure safe operations, the opening of the line for service will be in 2017.

     The Government has been treating the delay of the construction of the Hong Kong section of the XRL very seriously, and has immediately requested the MTRCL to provide the Government with a full assessment report on the progress of the construction work as soon as possible; at the same time, I have tasked the Director of Highways to conduct an independent review and assessment of the project progress.

     At the meeting of the RSC on May 5, the Government and MTRCL will give a full account on the latest position of the construction of the Hong Kong section of the XRL, the details of the delay, the construction monitoring mechanism, etc. The issues which Hon Tony Tse is concerned about will be covered.

Ends/Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:05


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