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LCQ8: Traffic situation in Kowloon East
     Following is a question by the Hon Wu Chi-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan, in the Legislative Council today (November 29):

     With the incessant population growth in Kowloon East and Tseung Kwan O in recent years, serious traffic congestions have frequently occurred on several major roads in Kowloon East. The various stations along the MTR Kwun Tong Line and the MTR Tseung Kwan O Line are also overcrowded during peak hours. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the respective hourly average (i) patronages, (ii) loadings calculated based on an accommodation of six persons (standing) per square metre, and (iii) loadings calculated based on an accommodation of four persons (standing) per square metre, per direction on critical links of the Kwun Tong Line and the Tseung Kwan O Line during morning and evening peak hours in each year since 2013;

(2) whether it knows if the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) implemented last year any passenger flow management measures at the various stations along the Kwun Tong Line and the Tseung Kwan O Line; if MTRCL did, set out the details of the measures by station;

(3) whether it knows if MTRCL is now undertaking or planning to carry out station improvement works to ease passenger flow at the various stations along the Kwun Tong Line and the Tseung Kwan O Line; if MTRCL is, of the details and progress; of the progress of the several projects proposed by the government departments concerned and the Energizing Kowloon East Office under the Development Bureau to enhance pedestrian connectivity facilities in Kowloon East (including the construction of a pedestrian subway near the MTR Ngau Tau Kok Station);

(4) of the latest progress of the planning work of the MTR East Kowloon Line, including whether or not the Government has completed examining the proposal submitted by MTRCL in July this year; the difference between the proposed alignment of the East Kowloon Line and that mentioned in the Railway Development Strategy 2014; the timing for consulting the public on the railway alignment and commencing the detailed design work of the project, as anticipated by the Government, with a view to achieving the target of commencing the railway project by 2025;

(5) given that the construction projects of the Central Kowloon Route and the Tseung Kwan O–Lam Tin Tunnel have commenced with specified completion dates, when the Government will submit the funding proposal for the construction project of the Trunk Road T2 connecting the route and the tunnel to the Finance Committee of this Council; of the anticipated commencement time of the project and the time to be taken for its completion; and

(6) apart from the series of road and junction improvement measures proposed to tie in with the Anderson Road Quarry Development, whether it has conducted planning for other improvement measures for the roads in Kowloon East to alleviate the traffic congestions at the roads, such as Prince Edward Road East, Kwun Tong Road, Lei Yue Mun Road, New Clear Water Bay Road and Hip Wo Street?



     My reply to the various parts of the Hon Wu Chi-wai's question is as follows:

(1) It has been the practice for the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) to compile the statistics of the passenger flow of individual railway lines based on the patronage and loading per hour per direction on critical links during the morning peaks. The patronage and loading per hour per direction of the Kwun Tong Line and the Tseung Kwan O Line during the morning peaks from 2013 to 2016 are tabulated below. The 2017 figures are yet to be available as the MTRCL needs time to prepare the data.
Rail line
(per hour on critical links during the morning peaks)
Patronage/ Loading 2013 2014 2015 2016
Kwun Tong Line
[Shek Kip Mei to Prince Edward]
Patronage (passenger trip) 47 600 48 100 47 000 47 800
(Six persons [standing] per square metre)
67% 67% 66% 67%
(Four persons [standing] per square metre)
94% 95% 92% 94%
Tseung Kwan O Line
[Yau Tong to Quarry Bay]
Patronage (passenger trip) 44 800 45 200 46 400 46 700
(Six persons [standing] per square metre)
72% 72% 69% 69%
(Four persons [standing] per square metre)
100.6% 102% 97% 97%

(2) To ease passenger flow, the MTRCL has been striving to enhance the carrying capacity of the railway network by adding train frequency and to reduce passenger waiting time through station management measures. The MTRCL will adopt different management measures in the light of passenger distribution on individual railway lines and at stations. Apart from the general measures applicable to the entire system (see Annex), the MTRCL has implemented the following passenger flow management measures at the Kwun Tong Line and the Tseung Kwan O Line in recent  years.

Kwun Tong Line
     The MTRLC has completed the enhancement works at Exit C of Kowloon Bay Station in 2016 to further facilitate passengers' usage of the escalators in the middle of the station and the additional entry gates. The completion of the works has brought about a smooth passenger flow at the station and helped ease the passenger flow at Exit C during peak hours.

     In recent years, the MTRCL has arranged short-haul trips to run between busy stations as far as possible to increase capacity, if a gap between trains under the scheduled train services has opened up to allow safe running of additional trains. The aim is to maintain smooth train operations even at the busiest sections and during peak hours. To meet passenger demand during the morning peaks, some of the trains running along the Kwun Tong Line towards Whampoa or Ho Man Tin will not take passengers after dropping off passengers at Tiu Keng Leng Station and go direct to Wong Tai Sin Station to take passengers. This arrangement would be incorporated into the daily schedule of train service. The MTRCL is considering applying this measure to other stations if circumstances so warranted.

     New measures also include the closing of some entry gates at upstream stations during peak periods, particularly the stations along busy railway lines, to reduce the speed of passenger flow towards platforms. This will help avoid overcrowding at platforms and ensure, as far as possible, the availability of space on trains for carrying passengers at downstream stations, thereby alleviating congestion at the busiest parts of individual stations. Taking the Kwun Tong Line (towards Mong Kok) which is particularly busy during morning peak hours as an example, the MTRCL will close some of the entry gates at upstream stations (Choi Hung to Wong Tai Sin stations) to reduce the speed of passenger flow towards platforms so that passengers at downstream stations can board the trains which are not at full capacity.

Tseung Kwan O Line

     To increase the train capacity of the Tseung Kwan O Line, the MTRCL has introduced a new "2+1" train service arrangement during the morning and evening peak periods since December 2014. Under the arrangement, every group of three trains would depart from North Point Station at intervals of 2.5 minutes, 2 minutes and 2 minutes (the frequency was a flat 2.5 minutes on average before the arrangement was put in place). The first two trains would head to Po Lam Station while the third train would terminate at LOHAS Park Station. More than 200 train trips in total have been increased weekly, thus boosting overall passenger carrying capacity during peak periods by 11.5%. To provide more convenience to passengers on the Tseung Kwan O Line, the MTRCL further added 78 trips per week running after evening peak hours on weekdays and before morning peak hours on Saturdays in 2014 and 2015. This, together with the "2+1" additional train trips during peak periods, has increased the train frequency on the Tseung Kwan O Line by about 280 trips per week.

     In the interim, the MTRCL, through an upgrade of the signalling systems, will increase the overall carrying capacity and further enhance the overall reliability and service efficiency. The signalling system upgrading works for the Kwun Tong Line and Tseung Kwan O Line are targeted for completion in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Upon the completion of the upgrade of all signalling systems in 2026, the overall carrying capacity of these railway lines will be increased by about 10%.

(3) Since Kwun Tong Station came into operation in 1979, the traffic flow in the area has been increasing with the development in the neighbourhood. The MTRCL has all along been closely monitoring the surrounding developments and the change in passenger flow, and has implemented various measures of passenger flow management to maintain smooth train operations. To improve the passenger flow at busy exits during peak hours, the MTRCL has also removed some shops, installed additional entry gates and widened the passageway for Kwun Tong Station. Currently, the MTRCL is examining ways to further enhance station facilities, including the adjustment of entry gates, provision of additional directional signs and increase of manpower, with a view to improving passenger flow in concourses and platforms during peak hours.
     As the Kwun Tong Town Centre redevelopment project of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is adjacent to Kwun Tong Station, the URA has proposed the construction of a "podium" connecting Kwun Tong Station. This will provide additional circulation area for the station and divert passenger flow to other exits of the station, thus facilitating smooth passenger flow to/from the station concourse and platform. The MTRCL welcomed the proposal in principle and will continue to communicate and coordinate with the URA on the connectivity between the podium and Kwun Tong Station.
     On the other hand, the Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) under the Development Bureau has formulated a number of short-, medium- and long-term pedestrian environment and traffic improvement proposals, which are being implemented by phases in Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong Business Areas. So far, 56 quick-win/short-term improvement proposals have been implemented. They include the provision of pedestrian crossings, widening of footpaths and shortening of pedestrian crossing alignment. As regards the medium- and long-term improvement proposals in the Kwun Tong Business Areas, EKEO has commissioned the Highways Department (HyD) to commence a consultancy study on the investigation and preliminary design of the improvement proposals near Ngau Tau Kok by the end of this year. The items to be studied include the extension of the pedestrian subway connecting to MTR Ngau Tau Kok Station, improvement of the nearby public transport interchange, face-lifting of Shun Yip Street subway across Kwun Tong Road, face-lifting of How Ming Lane and the nearby subway across Kwun Tong Road, beautification of Kwun Tong Road Sitting-out Area and Kwun Tong Road Rest Garden, improvement of the traffic-signal-controlled junction at Lai Yip Street and Wai Yip Street, and provision of more roadside greening space. The improvement proposals aim at providing a comfortable walking environment for pedestrians towards the Kwun Tong Business Areas and the waterfront.

     Regarding the Kowloon Bay Business Areas, in order to relieve the existing congestion on the footbridge near the Exit B of MTR Kowloon Bay Station and enhance the connectivity between MTR Kowloon Bay Station and the future East Kowloon Cultural Centre, the EKEO has commissioned the HyD to study the provision of an additional footbridge. In June this year, the Kwun Tong District Council was consulted on, and gave support to, the proposal of constructing a new footbridge. The project was gazetted in November 2017 under the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 370). Moreover, the EKEO has planned to provide a new footbridge across Kwun Tong Road near Exit A of MTR Kowloon Bay Station so as to further enhance the barrier-free facilities in the district. The EKEO has also commissioned the HyD to study the provision of another footbridge across Wai Yip Street near Siu Yip Street. The investigation study is in progress. 
(4) As invited by the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB), the MTRCL submitted a proposal on the East Kowloon Line project to the Government at the end of July 2017. The THB, HyD and relevant departments are currently assessing the contents of the proposal, including the alignment of the rail line, and have requested the MTRCL to provide further and more detailed information so as to ensure that the proposal is practicable and brings the best benefits to the community. In line with established procedures, prior to the finalisation of any new railway scheme, we will consult the public on the detailed alignment, locations of stations, mode of implementation, cost estimate, mode of financing, actual implementation timetable and other specifics. As regards such matters as the construction timetable and public consultation, they can only be confirmed upon completion of the assessment of the proposal.

(5) The Government will seek funding approval from the Legislative Council in a timely manner for the main works of Trunk Road T2 to tie in with the completion date of the Central Kowloon Route as far as possible. The Civil Engineering and Development Department is currently engaged in the detailed design of Trunk Road T2, the completion of which will enable the Government to formulate a definite construction programme. Generally speaking, the construction of a large-scale tunnel project similar to Trunk Road T2 requires approximately five to six years for completion.

(6) To relieve the traffic condition in Kowloon East area, the Government has implemented a number of traffic management measures on Prince Edward Road East, Kwun Tong Road, Clear Water Bay Road, New Clear Water Bay Road and Choi Hung Interchange. The measures include adding U Turn facility, installing traffic directional signs to guide motorists to diversion routes, extending bus stops and public light bus stands, and enhancing road markings. The implementation of these measures has generally been completed. Meanwhile, the Government is also planning enhancement works to the roundabout at Lei Yue Mun Road and Kai Tin Road.
     To support the Anderson Road Public Housing Development and Anderson Road Quarry Development, the Government has proposed a series of road and junction improvement measures. In addition, the Government has proposed constructing four pedestrian links connecting the Anderson Road Quarry Development area with the neighbouring housing estates, Kwun Tong Town Centre, MTR Kwun Tong Station and the proposed bus-bus interchange at the Tseung Kwan O Tunnel toll plaza. These links will serve to reduce the use of public transport feeder services by residents living on the hillside, thereby relieving the traffic load of the Kowloon East area. The construction works of the aforesaid pedestrian links have commenced progressively since March this year to dovetail with the population intake programme of the Anderson Road Quarry Development area scheduled for 2023-24.
     The URA will also implement a number of traffic management measures in the Kwun Tung Town Centre Redevelopment Project to ease the traffic at the Kwun Tong Town Centre area (including Kwun Tong Road and Hip Wo Street). The measures include providing an additional left-turn lane to Hip Wo Street at the Kwun Tong Road roundabout, widening certain road sections of Hip Wo Street and other traffic management measures, in addition to relocating most of the bus stops and public light bus stands in the town centre to the public transport interchange in the redevelopment project. The above works are being implemented in stages and planned for phased completion from 2021 to 2024.
     In the long run, the Government is progressively taking forward the construction of Route 6 (comprising the Tseung Kwan O – Lam Tin Tunnel, the Central Kowloon Route and Trunk Road T2), which will serve to substantially divert traffic from the road networks of Kowloon East and thus effectively alleviate traffic congestion in the district.
Ends/Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:45
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