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LCQ14: Implementation of railway projects
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     Following is a question by the Hon Edward Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, in the Legislative Council today (November 16):

Question: 

     ‚ÄčThe Government has put forward a total of 15 railway projects in the Railway Development Strategy 2014, the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy, as well as the Policy Addresses of last year and this year. It has also mentioned that it will put forth, within this year, proposals on aspects such as the new railway network for the Kau Yi Chau (KYC) Artificial Islands. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the following information on the aforesaid railway projects: (i) the latest progress, (ii) whether proposal(s) of the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) has/have been received, (iii) the date/expected date for works commencement, and (iv) the expected completion date (or decision made on holding the project in abeyance) (set out in the table below);
 
Railway Project (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
1. Tung Chung West Extension        
2. Tuen Mun South Extension        
3. Northern Link and Kwu Tung Station        
4. Hung Shui Kiu Station of Tuen Ma Line        
5. South Island Line (West)        
6. East Kowloon Line        
7. North Island Line        
8. Pak Shek Kok Station of East Rail Line        
9. Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Rail Link        
10. Automated people mover system from Tsim Bei Tsui to Pak Nai        
11. Northern Link - north extension (San Tin to Huanggang)        
12. Northern Link - east extension (via Ta Kwu Ling and Queen's Hill)        
13. Lo Wu South Station of East Rail Line        
14. Central Rail Link        
15. Tseung Kwan O Line Southern Extension        

(2) of the preliminary proposals relating to the new railway network for the KYC Artificial Islands;

(3) whether the authorities have assessed if the existing professional manpower and resources of the relevant government departments, the MTRCL and the railway construction industry can cope with the implementation of the various aforesaid railway projects; if they have assessed and the outcome is in the negative, what measures the authorities will take to avoid delays of such projects due to shortage of manpower and resources; and

(4) whether the authorities have considered, apart from the MTRCL, bringing in overseas or Mainland companies to participate in the construction or operation of the aforesaid railway projects; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,
 
     Regarding the enquiries raised by the Hon Edward Leung, having consulted the Development Bureau, the coordinated reply is provided as follows:
 
(1) The progress of the railway projects is as follows:
 
Railway Project (i) Latest Progress (ii) Whether proposal of the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) has been received (iii) Date/expected date for works commencement (iv) Expected completion date
1. Tung Chung Line Extension Detailed planning and design in progress Yes 2023 2029
2. Tuen Mun South Extension Detailed planning and design in progress Yes 2023 2030
3. Northern Link and Kwu Tung Station Detailed planning and design in progress Yes Kwu Tung Station
2023
 
Northern Link Main Line
2025
Kwu Tung Station
2027
 
Northern Link Main Line
2034
4. Tuen Ma Line Hung Shui Kiu Station Detailed planning and design in progress Yes 2024 2030
5. South Island Line (West) Actively consider the project proposal for South Island Line (West) submitted by the MTRCL taking into account the redevelopment timetable of Wah Fu Estate for freeing up the works site for construction of the station Yes Under planning Under planning
6. East Kowloon Line  Given the hilly topography along the East Kowloon Line, the implementation of underground heavy rail would not be the most effective option. The Government is now exploring the construction of an elevated trackless rapid transit system as an alternative, and the technical feasibility study is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023.
7. North Island Line  Taking into account the Government's comments, the MTRCL is conducting further study on the feasible options for improving the design of the project. Yes Under planning Under planning
8. East Rail Line Pak Shek Kok Station Preliminarily confirmed the feasibility of providing a new station. The Government and the MTRCL are working on the details of the relevant study. No Under study Under study; the target is to complete the construction of station in 2033 or even earlier
9. Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Rail Link (Hung Shui Kiu - Qianhai) The first stage study taken forward by the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments through the "Task Force for Hong Kong-Shenzhen Co-operation on Cross-Boundary Railway Infrastructure" ("Task Force") is expected to be completed within 2022, followed by the commencement of the second stage study in Q1 2023 for completion by mid-2024 tentatively.
10. Automated people mover system from Tsim Bei Tsui to Pak Nai Study on the feasibility in progress.
 
11. Northern Link Spur Line To discuss with Shenzhen Government on the implementation arrangement of the project through the Task Force.
12. Northern Link Eastward Extension The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and the Planning Department (PlanD) are carrying out the planning and engineering study (P&E Study) for the Lo Wu/Man Kam To Comprehensive Development Node and New Territories North New Town to formulate the land use of the above-mentioned development project. At the same time, the Transport and Logistics Bureau will explore strategic transport infrastructure necessary for driving the associated development, and holistically review the alignment of the Northern Link Eastward Extension.
13. East Rail Line Lo Wu South Station  The CEDD and the PlanD are carrying out the P&E Study for New Territories North New Town and Man Kam To, which covers the concerned area. The Government will take into account such studies and examine the initial concept of the Lo Wu South Station of the East Rail Line in detail, so as to address the future development need in the most effective manner.
14. Oyster Bay Station Detailed design in progress Yes 2023 2030
15. Central Rail Link  The consultation on the "Strategic Studies on Railways and Major Roads beyond 2030", including the proposed Central Rail Link and Tseung Kwan O (TKO) Line Southern Extension, will commence in the end of this year and a Major Transport Infrastructure Development Blueprint for Hong Kong will be consolidated in Q4 2023.
16. TKO Line Southern Extension
 
 
(2) The CEDD and the PlanD jointly commenced the "Artificial Islands in the Central Waters - Investigation" (the Study) in June 2021. The scope of the Study mainly includes the detailed planning and engineering studies for the artificial islands of about 1 000 hectares adjacent to Kau Yi Chau, and the technical feasibility studies for the priority road and rail links connecting the artificial islands. The Government will provide preliminary proposals for the Study, including the transport infrastructure network, within this year and listen to public views. 

(3) The Government and the Construction Industry Council (CIC) have been keeping in view the construction volume and related manpower requirements, including the construction manpower demand for the transport infrastructure development. The CIC regularly conducts forecasts on manpower demand of the construction industry, including the demand of various trades, and maintains liaison with the industry to understand its needs. Apart from the provision of training, the CIC also endeavours to strengthen manpower training in collaboration with the industry and various training institutions, and promote the professional image and development opportunities of the industry as well as its contribution to the building of our community, with the view to attracting new entrants to the industry. The CIC is updating its manpower forecast, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Making reference to the forecast results and the results brought about by the various measures for enhancing manpower supply and uplifting productivity, the Government will review the overall manpower needs with a view to achieving the target of presenting the manpower assessment and the recommendations for manpower planning of the construction sector in 2023.
 
     The Government, taking into account the planning and implementation work of the various cross-boundary and local railway projects, will review the manpower requirements of the relevant departments, and redeploy or seek additional resources as necessary through the Resource Allocation Exercise and other established procedures, with a view to supporting the implementation of railway projects.
 
     Based on the latest planning of the new development areas and the progress of all the major transport infrastructure being constructed and planned, the Government will holistically review the delivery programme of the proposed projects under the "Strategic Studies on Railways and Major Roads beyond 2030", with a view to implementing various projects in a progressive manner for the sustainable development of the local railway network.
 
(4) The implementation approach of new railway projects should be consistent with the Operating Agreement signed between the Government and the MTRCL in 2007. The Government would take into account the construction and operation details of each railway project (e.g. connection to existing railway, interchange arrangements for passengers, etc.), and independently review the implementation approach of each railway project. According to the Operating Agreement, if a new railway project consists of extension from the existing railway network, the Government would first invite the MTRCL to submit proposal for the implementation of the relevant project. As for new railway projects without direct connection to the existing railway network, the Government could consider whether to invite the MTRCL to implement the project or conduct an open tender process. For new independent railway lines such as the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Rail Link connecting Hung Shui Kiu to Qianhai, the Government would have room to consider the feasibility of introducing other operators.
 
     Thank you, President.
 
Ends/Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:20
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