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LCQ17: XRL West Kowloon Terminus
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     Following is a question by the Hon Ma Fung-kwok and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (October 28):

Question:

     At present, the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) has borrowed some of the sites of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) project for use as the works sites for the project to construct the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), including the works sites for the XRL West Kowloon Terminus and the temporary barging facility. Due to the delay of the XRL project, the handover of some of these works sites to the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) may have to be deferred. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective (i) areas, (ii) locations, (iii) originally scheduled dates of handover to WKCDA, and (iv) actual handover dates (if handed over already) or expected handover dates (if not yet handed over) of the various works sites;

(2) of the actions taken, upon learning that the handover of the works sites to WKCDA would need to be deferred, by the authorities to urge MTRCL to hand over those sites expeditiously;

(3) of the impact of the deferred handover of the works sites to WKCDA on the development of WKCD (including its construction works, construction costs, etc.), according to the authorities' latest estimation; the measures to be taken by the authorities to alleviate the impact; whether they have conducted studies to find out if the extra expenditure caused to the WKCD construction works by the deferred handover of the works sites should be borne by MTRCL, the Government or WKCDA, and of the justifications for the conclusion concerned; and

(4) as it has been reported that the idea of suspension of work is brewing among a number of XRL project contractors, whether the authorities have formulated contingency plans to alleviate the possible impact on the WKCD project should such a situation occur; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

     The Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) is about 26 kilometres long. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (the Government) has entrusted the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) with the construction and commissioning of the Hong Kong section of the XRL. The construction works of the XRL commenced in January 2010. The construction of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) had not yet commenced at that juncture. With full communication and coordination between the Government and the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), the Hong Kong section of the XRL would use part of WKCD land as temporary works areas. Since a part of the XRL Terminus is located at the underground of WKCD, the construction of the Hong Kong section of the XRL will have interfaces with that of the WKCD. At present, most of the land within Zones 2A, 2B and 2C for construction of the WKCD integrated basement are temporarily occupied by the MTRCL as works area for the XRL project for construction of West Kowloon Terminus (WKT) of the XRL. After the completion of relevant construction works for the XRL project, MTRCL will hand over the works areas to WKCDA in phases for construction of WKCD integrated basement and other facilities. The zoning plan of the WKCD integrated basement is at the Annex.

     Our reply to the various parts of the Hon Ma Fung-kwok's question is as follows:

(1) The whole WKCD is about 40.9 hectares. For constructing the WKT, there is a need to use land adjacent to the WKT to accommodate plant, materials and associated construction facilities. Hence, a total of about 15.7 hectares in the WKCD (which accounts for about 39 per cent of the total area of the WKCD) have been allocated for use as temporary works areas for the construction of the Hong Kong section of the XRL. The temporary works areas are located within Zones 1A, 2A, 2B and 2C of the WKCD integrated basement, with some areas within Zones 3A and 3B of the WKCD integrated basement and the Park.

At present, MTRCL has handed over about 9 per cent or about 3.5 hectares (including most part of Zone 1A and all the occupied areas of Zone 3A of the integrated basement and the Park sites) of the total area of the WKCD to facilitate the WKCDA's construction of Xiqu Centre, Lyric Theatre Complex and the Park. As regards the remaining 30 per cent or about 12.2 hectares of the WKCD, they are mainly located within Zones 2A, 2B and 2C of the integrated basement. The Government has initially agreed with the WKCDA the timetable for handing over around 2 per cent of the total area of WKCD. As for the remaining 28 per cent of the total area of WKCD, about half of it is located within Zone 2A of the integrated basement. The timetable for handover of this area will depend on the completion date for the construction of the WKT and the WKCD enabling works for the WKCD topside developments in this zone. As for another half of the land located within Zones 2B and 2C, they are mainly used as temporary supporting works areas for the XRL project. Subject to the land sale programme of hotel, office and residential development designated for Zone 2B, and the development plan for Great Theatre, Musical Theatre, and Music Centre, etc. in Zone 2C, the Government is prepared to work out a feasible timetable for handover of the sites flexibly according to the development need of WKCD to tie in with its implementation in the two zones. The Government will discuss in detail with the MTRCL, including assessing the timetable for handing over the areas within Zone 2A of the integrated basement which accounts for about 14 per cent of the total area, in order to minimise the impact on the WKCD project.

(2) Since the MTRCL announced on June 30, 2015 further delay of the XRL project to the third quarter of 2018, including a six-month contingency period, the Highways Department (HyD) has, with the assistance of its monitoring and verification consultant, critically reviewed the revised Programme to Complete (PTC). Pending the results of the review, we will assess whether and to what extent the implementation timetable for Zones 2A, 2B and 2C of the WKCD integrated basement and the arts and cultural facilities thereon would be affected. In any case, the HyD and MTRCL will continue to coordinate with the WKCDA and implement feasible measures with a view to minimising the impact on the WKCD project.

(3) The Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) and the WKCDA plan to implement the arts and cultural facilities in batches with current focus on the development of Xiqu Centre, M+, Artist Square Development Area and the Park (including Freespace and the Arts Pavilion). The XRL project will not have a significant impact on the Xiqu Centre, M+ and the Park. The construction of Xiqu Centre and M+ commenced in September 2013 and August 2014 respectively. Regarding the works area occupied by XRLs barging facilities in a small portion of Zone 3B of the integrated basement, the WKCDA has managed to maintain the target completion date of the Lyric Theatre Complex by around 2020, by incorporating the foundation works concerned into the main works contract for the topside development of the Complex to tie in with the scheduled handing over of the works area in question.

     In addition, the Civil Engineering and Development Department will engage consultants to carry out the design and supervise the site investigation of essential basement structures and associated works for Zones 2A, 2B and 2C of the integrated basement. More reliable estimates of the project costs of the integrated basement and topside developments will only be available near the time of tendering after finalisation of the designs and confirmation on the hand over dates of the works areas in Zones 2A, 2B and 2C of the integrated basement; given the various construction demands and macro-economic factors worldwide and in the region, the construction costs of the WKCD development would be subject to fluctuations in labour and material costs in the coming years.

     There is no contractual agreement between the MTRCL and the WKCDA on the handover dates of the above works areas. The bureaux/departments concerned have all along been in close communication and coordination with the MTRCL and the WKCDA on the land matters in WKCD with a view to minimising the impacts of the railway works on the construction programme and cost of the WKCD project.

(4) The MTRCL has not submitted, in its capacity as the project manager of the XRL project, any report to the Transport and Housing Bureau on XRL project contractors planning to cease works. In our view, ceasing the works of the XRL project is absolutely not a proper and responsible decision. Cessation or even termination of the XRL project will have grave and profound repercussions, including a serious impact on the implementation schedule for sites relating to the WKCD. The Government will enhance the monitoring of the performance of MTRCL as the project manager so as to facilitate early completion and commissioning of the XRL project to minimise the impact on the WKCD project.

Ends/Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:30

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