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LCQ1: Proposed East Kowloon Line
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     Following is a question by the Hon Tang Ka-piu and a reply by the Acting Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Liu Chun-san, in the Legislative Council today (December 14):

Question:

     ‚ÄčIn the Railway Development Strategy 2014, the Government put forward the construction of the East Kowloon Line (EKL) with a view to addressing the traffic problems in Kowloon East. The Government indicated last month that it expected to complete the relevant technical feasibility study in the first half of next year, and it would promulgate the way forward of the project. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) as the Government has indicated that it is exploring the construction of an elevated trackless rapid transit system for developing EKL, of the difference in the construction time and cost required between such system and the conventional heavy rail system, as well as whether it has assessed the impact of such system on the travelling modes of the residents in Kowloon East, and the estimated vehicle flow that can be reduced within the district;

(2) as the Government has indicated that due to the topographical and technical issues along the proposed EKL, it is unable to extend EKL to Tsz Wan Shan and Lam Tin, whether the Government will employ jointly the technologies used in building underground tunnels and elevated corridors to resolve the relevant problems; and

(3) as it is learnt that the MTR Choi Hung Station will become the major interchange station for EKL to connect with the MTR Kwun Tong Line, whether it knows if the MTR Corporation Limited will provide additional lifts or escalators at the MTR Choi Hung Station to facilitate seamless interchange between the two railway lines?

Reply:

President,

     The Government is now exploring an elevated trackless rapid transit system as an alternative to the East Kowloon Line (EKL) to meet the commuting needs of residents living in the uphill areas of Kwun Tong. The preliminary alignment is approximately 4 kilometres in length, connecting Po Tat via Sau Mau Ping, Shun On, Shun Lee and Choi Wan with MTR Choi Hung Station, and serving the aforesaid areas and the nearby housing developments near Anderson Road and at the Anderson Road Quarry Site. We are conducting a technical feasibility study on the elevated trackless rapid transit system. Upon completion of the technical feasibility study in the first half of 2023, we will promulgate the way forward of the project, including the preliminary timetable and implementation arrangement.

     The reply to the question raised by the Hon Tang Ka-piu is as follows:
 
(1) Regarding the proposed EKL under the Railway Development Strategy 2014, we have holistically reviewed the railway alignment, gradient, location of stations, construction constraints, etc. Owing to the hilly topography along the corridor and the limited climbing capability of the heavy rail system, most of the railway sections under the original scheme will need to run deep underground. It is expected that the project will encounter significant technical difficulties, including the need to construct deep underground stations, railway tunnels and very long adits connected to the ground level, etc, on hilly terrain in the uphill areas. In addition, due to deep underground stations, the public will need to use the lifts to travel between the ground level and underground stations and walk through relatively long pedestrian adits to reach the station concourses and platforms for train ride. The public will need to take longer time to travel between the ground level and the station platforms, thus increasing the journey time. Taking the proposed Choi Wan Station, Shun Tin Station and Sau Mau Ping Station as examples, the depth of these underground stations from ground level is approximately 60 to 70 metres, and the length of the pedestrian adits is approximately 300 to 400 metres. It is estimated that the journey time between the ground level and the station platforms will take more than 10 minutes. Hence, the implementation of underground heavy rail system will not be an effective option for EKL.
 
     As an alternative, the elevated trackless rapid transit system has higher climbing capability than traditional heavy rail system and is suitable for operation in hilly areas with higher gradient. The proposed trackless rapid transit system will operate on a dedicated elevated corridor which will be completely separated from pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The rapid transit system will not be affected by traffic at Clear Water Bay Road, New Clear Water Bay Road and Choi Hung Interchange. As the stations will be located adjacent to the elevated corridor, the public can travel between the ground level and the station platforms more conveniently compared with deep underground stations. The journey time from Po Tat to Choi Hung East is estimated to be some 10 minutes, facilitating the passengers to interchange with the Kwun Tong Line at MTR Choi Hung Station. Hence, the elevated trackless rapid transit system can provide more commuting options in addition to franchised buses and green mini buses and shorten travelling time. It will also reduce the impact of road traffic on local residents, meet the commuting needs of residents living in the uphill areas of Kwun Tong and divert the public transportation road traffic to and from the adjacent railway stations. On the other hand, construction of deep tunnels, rails and overhead cables, etc, is not required and its electrical and mechanical supporting system is relatively simpler; hence the elevated trackless rapid transit system is a more cost effective option and its construction period is relatively shorter than the heavy rail system.
 
(2) Regardless of whether the trackless rapid transit system is constructed in the form of elevated structures or underground tunnels, the alignment and station locations of the system need to take into account a number of factors such as gradient, space for accommodating the elevated structures or underground tunnels, construction locations, impacts on surrounding buildings and facilities etc. The areas around Tsz Wan Shan and Lam Tin have been well developed, and the existing roads are very narrow with many buildings alongside. The space for accommodating the elevated corridor is very limited; hence the technical feasibility is relatively low. On the other hand, since Tsz Wan Shan and the east of Lam Tin are situated in uphill areas, the construction of tunnels and underground stations on hilly terrain in the uphill areas involve construction of deep tunnels, caverns and relatively long adits connecting to the ground level, and it is necessary to reserve spaces for ventilation, fire protection and other emergency escape purposes. The technical difficulties in construction and the longer time taken by the public to access the stations using the lifts between the ground level and underground platforms and relatively long pedestrian adits to the station platforms, etc. are undesirable factors of the scheme. We will continue to study carefully and explore feasible schemes taking into account the views of Members and the public received.
 
(3) The Choi Hung East terminal station of the proposed elevated trackless rapid transit system will be located on top of the existing public light bus terminus at Clear Water Bay Road, and a convenient pedestrian passage connecting with MTR Choi Hung Station will be provided to facilitate passengers to interchange with the Kwun Tong Line. We will explore the detailed arrangement for connecting MTR Choi Hung Station with MTR Corporation Limited in the future detailed planning and design stage.
 
     Thank you, President.
 
Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:03
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