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LCQ19: Traffic distribution among vehicular tunnels
     Following is a question by the Hon Ho Kai-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan, in the Legislative Council today (November 15):
​     There are currently three road tunnels linking Sha Tin and Kowloon in the territory, i.e. the Eagle's Nest Tunnel in conjunction with Sha Tin Heights Tunnel, the Lion Rock Tunnel, and the Tate's Cairn Tunnel (TCT).  As the franchise of TCT will expire in mid-2018, some members of the public hope that the Government adjusts the tolls of these three tunnels upon its takeover of TCT, so as to effectively redistribute the traffic between Sha Tin and Kowloon.  Regarding the management of these tunnels, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) how the average daily traffic flows of the three aforesaid tunnels in the past three years compare with their design capacities respectively;
(2) as some bus passengers have pointed out that because the entrances and exits of the bus bays at the toll plazas of TCT are narrow, coupled with the continued increase in the traffic flow of TCT in recent years, buses often have to queue up to pull in at the bus bays for picking up and dropping off passengers, which has increased the journey time of buses, whether the authorities will consider widening the entrances and exits of the bus bays; and
(3) given that the authorities have undertaken to submit, upon completion of a study on the rationalisation of traffic distribution among the three aforesaid tunnels and the three road harbour tunnels, the toll adjustment proposals for such tunnels to a panel of this Council for discussion within this legislative year, of the temporary measures the authorities have put in place, before the implementation of the toll adjustment proposals, to ease the traffic congestion at the three tunnels linking Sha Tin and Kowloon during peak hours?
​     My reply to the various parts of the Hon Ho Kai-ming's question is as follows:
(1) The average daily traffic volume of the Eagle's Nest and Sha Tin Heights Tunnel, Lion Rock Tunnel and Tate's Cairn Tunnel in the past three years, the daily design capacities of the three tunnels, and the comparison between the respective design capacities and traffic volume are as follows:
Tunnel Daily Design
Average Daily Traffic Flow
2015 2016 2017
(Jan to Aug)
Eagle's Nest and
Sha Tin Heights Tunnel
118 000 50 100
54 300
56 400
Lion Rock Tunnel 78 500 92 000
92 600
92 000
Tate's Cairn Tunnel 78 500 59 500
59 200
60 000

Note: The figures in brackets refer to the percentages of their average daily traffic volume to their design capacities.
     As shown above, over the past three years, the average daily traffic volume of the Eagle's Nest and Sha Tin Heights Tunnel was about 55 per cent below its design capacity while that of Lion Rock Tunnel exceeded its design capacity by about 17 per cent.  The average daily traffic volume of Tate's Cairn Tunnel was below its design capacity by about 24 per cent over the same period.  However, we must point out that both the southbound weekday morning peak-hour and the northbound weekday evening peak-hour traffic demands for Tate's Cairn Tunnel have already far exceeded its design capacity (by about 38 per cent and 23 per cent respectively), causing congestion at the tunnel and its connecting roads.
(2) There are bus interchange stations on both the Kowloon-bound side and the Sha Tin-bound side of Tate's Cairn Tunnel Toll Plaza.  About 50 franchised bus routes stop at the bus interchange stations to facilitate passengers to interchange to different destinations.  Each bus bay at the interchange stations for Kowloon-bound and Sha Tin-bound traffic can accommodate four buses at the same time to pick up or set down passengers.  In view of the heavy traffic at Tate's Cairn Tunnel during the morning peak hours, the Transport Department (TD) has introduced a traffic management measure by providing a bus-only lane along the Kowloon bound of Tate's Cairn Highway to enable buses to reach the tunnel entrance speedily, thus shortening the time required for passengers to arrive at the interchange stations or their destinations.  TD also noticed that buses occasionally need to queue up for the bus bays to pick up and set down passengers during the busiest hours in the evening.  TD will explore improvement measures, including the feasibility of extending the existing bus bays and adding new bus bays, with a view to speeding up bus flow as much as possible.
(3) In January this year, TD commenced a study on the overall strategy for the rationalisation of traffic distribution among the three road harbour crossings (i.e. Cross Harbour Tunnel, Eastern Harbour Crossing and Western Harbour Crossing) and three tunnels between Kowloon and Sha Tin (i.e. Tate's Cairn Tunnel, Lion Rock Tunnel, as well as the Eagle's Nest and Sha Tin Heights Tunnel).  We will brief the Legislative Council Panel on Transport (the Panel) on November 17 this year on the preliminary findings of the study and submit toll adjustment options within this legislative session to the Panel for discussion.
     At present, the three tunnels between Kowloon and Sha Tin are able to cope with the overall traffic demands between the two areas.  During the weekday morning and evening peak hours, there are congestions at Tate's Cairn Tunnel and Lion Rock Tunnel, while the Eagle's Nest and Sha Tin Heights Tunnel has spare capacity.
     The Government has been exploring various traffic improvement measures with a view to diverting some of the traffic from Tate's Cairn Tunnel and Lion Rock Tunnel to the Eagle's Nest and Sha Tin Heights Tunnel.  As a short-term measure, the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) provided in 2015 an additional lane at the approach road (near Scenery Court) leading from Tai Po Road (Sha Tin Section) to Route 8 to attract motorists to use Route 8 and improve traffic conditions on the approach road and its vicinity.  In addition, as a medium-term improvement measure, CEDD plans to widen an approximately 1.1 kilometre-long section of Tai Po Road (Sha Tin Section) between Sha Tin Plaza near Sha Tin Rural Committee Road and Man Wo House of Wo Che Estate from a dual two-lane carriageway to a dual three-lane carriageway.  The detailed design and the preparation work of the project are close to completion.  CEDD will strive to secure funding for the project within this legislative session with a view to commencing the works as soon as possible.
     Furthermore, to examine possible long-term solutions to the problem of traffic congestion in Sha Tin, CEDD is conducting feasibility studies on major roads in Sha Tin, including Tai Po Road (Sha Tin Section), Tate's Cairn Highway, Lion Rock Tunnel Road as well as the Trunk Road T4 proposal put forward in the past etc.
     On railways, the Shatin to Central Link (SCL) under construction will provide a non-road based public transport option for commuting between Sha Tin and the urban areas.  Upon its operation commencing from 2019 in stages, it is anticipated that some commuters who have been using road-based public transport will be attracted to use the SCL, thereby relieving traffic pressure on Tate's Cairn Tunnel and Lion Rock Tunnel.
Ends/Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:00
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