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THB responds to Report of XRL Hong Kong Section Independent Expert Panel

     The Government released today (January 30) the Report of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) Independent Expert Panel. It has been put online at the GovHK webpage (

     The Transport and Housing Bureau (THB) thanked the Chairman of the Panel, Mr Justice Hartmann, and the two Panel members Dr Peter Hansford and Professor Andrew J Whittle, who are engineering experts, for their review of the implementation of the XRL Hong Kong Section as well as the recommendations put forward, aiming to improve the systems, processes and practices for implementing and monitoring the XRL Hong Kong Section as well as future new railway projects. These recommendations include the following:

(1) improve institutional arrangements for concession agreements;
(2) adopt internationally recognised best practices for complex projects;
(3) enhance progress reporting;
(4) suggestions for immediate application to the XRL Hong Kong Section project, including: the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) reports against an integrated master programme, the Government and the MTRCL provide enhanced access for the Monitoring and Verification Consultant to perform its duties, etc; and
(5) the Government's external scrutiny of its portfolio of infrastructure projects.

     As pointed out in the Report (at paragraph 1.13), all of the parties involved have co-operated with and provided assistance to the Panel. The Government has co-operated fully with the Panel's work and provided the Panel with detailed information and a full account in the course of its work.

     The THB attaches great importance to the observations and recommendations in the Report. The THB will, together with the Highways Department, actively pursue the Report's recommendations and explore the implementation arrangements with the MTRCL and other relevant parties, particularly in relation to monitoring and reporting of construction works. Necessary changes in the monitoring mechanism and institutional arrangements, in connection to the mode of agreement to be adopted in the implementation of new railway projects in future, will also be studied in detail. This will include a review of the institutional arrangements for implementing, under the concession approach, future new railway projects under the Railway Development Strategy 2014, taking into account the experience of the implementation of the XRL Hong Kong Section project and the Report's recommendations.

     At present, the Government's most important work is to press ahead with the implementation of the XRL project for completion as soon as possible. This requires the full co-operation of the MTRCL and relevant engineering staff. The Government will act in accordance with the Entrustment Agreement as regards the overrun of the approved project estimate and the parties' responsibility for bearing the relevant costs. The Government will assess the MTRCL's obligations regarding project implementation, works delay and the project cost overrun, and will reserve all the rights to pursue the warranties and obligations from the MTRCL.

     The XRL Hong Kong Section is the first railway project implemented by the Government under the concession approach. Under the concession approach, the Government will fund the construction of the railway and its ancillary infrastructure, and ultimately owns the railway. The MTRCL is entrusted with the design, construction, testing and commissioning of the XRL Hong Kong Section. Upon completion of the railway, the MTRCL would be granted a service concession for the operation and the Government will receive service concession payment accordingly.

Ends/Friday, January 30, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:48


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