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Transcript of STH's meet-the-media session on XRL Hong Kong Section (1)

     Following is the transcript of remarks of the meet-the-media session by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, on the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Hong Kong-Shenzhen Express Rail Link at the ground floor lobby of the West Wing, Central Government Offices, Tamar, today (June 30):

Secretary for Transport and Housing: The Government today received the review results of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Corporation Limited regarding the revised Programme to Complete and revised Cost to Complete (CTC) of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Hong Kong-Shenzhen Express Rail Link project.

     According to the MTR Corporation's latest assessment, the commissioning of the Express Rail will have to be delayed further from the end of 2017 to the third quarter of 2018, which includes a six-month contingency period. As regards the CTC, the MTR Corporation advised that the amount will have to be revised to $85.3 billion, which includes a Revised Total Project Cost of $83.2 billion and a sum of $2.1 billion for contingency.

     As the regular meeting of the Legislative Council Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways will be held this Friday (July 3), we have requested the Corporation's Chief Executive Officer and Projects Director to attend that meeting to explain their latest assessment in detail.

     The Government has grave concern about the Express Rail project's further delay and cost overrun. The latest Cost to Complete of $85.3 billion submitted by the Corporation is 31.23 per cent more than the original entrustment fee of $65 billion, and 19.3 per cent more than the Corporation's revised Cost to Complete of $71.5 billion announced last August, just a year ago.

     The Highways Department, assisted by its monitoring and verification consultant, will critically scrutinise the Corporation's review results, including the contingency sum, in accordance with the Government's established practice of assessing project costs. We reserve our position as of now.

     The MTR Corporation, being the entrusted project manager of the Express Rail project, bears the greatest responsibility and duty to control project cost and manage risks. It has to fulfil its role in supervising and co-ordinating its various contractors, spare no efforts in cost control and completing the project as scheduled.

     The Government has serious concern about the drastic deviations of the project from the original commissioning schedule and approved funding. We will critically examine the performance of the MTR Corporation as the project manager and look into its responsibility for project delay and cost overrun.

     I must stress the Government would not accept the continuous cost overrun and let taxpayers pay for the cost of the Corporation's performance in project management. A way must be found to cap the final entrustment fee of the project.

     The Government fully understands that the public is disappointed with the delay and cost overrun of the Express Rail project, and with the Corporation's performance. As we pursue the Corporation's responsibility, we must at the same time try our best to find appropriate solutions to the problems before us. Our primary objective is to contain costs and speed up works as far as possible.

     The Government will handle this matter seriously to safeguard public interest in all respects. We will enter into concrete discussions with the MTR Corporation and will make public the outcome when available.

(To be continued.)

Ends/Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:09


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