Macau light rail contract goes to MTR

Local | Riley Chan 12 Apr 2018

MTRCL will operate and manage Macau's first light rail system, worth about HK$5.71 billion.

The corporation's wholly owned subsidiary, MTR Operacoes Ferroviarias (Macau) Sociedade Unipessoal Lda, or MTR (Macau), was awarded a contract for the operation and maintenance services of the Macau Light Rapid Transit, in Taipa.

The contract covers an 80-month period and MTR (Macau)'s scope will include the Macau Light Rapid Transit Taipa Line's testing and commissioning, operation of train services, and the maintenance of trains, signaling and infrastructure.

The 9.3-kilometer line will serve 11 stations, connecting the airport, the Cotai Frontier Port and the Taipa Ferry Terminal. The light rail is expected to start service next year. The system will be fully automated and driverless, using rubber-tire vehicles.

"Building on our proven operational expertise in Hong Kong and international markets, we are confident in delivering quality services and contributing to Macau's railway development," said Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen, chief executive of the MTR Corporation.

Macau lawmaker Au Kam-san said the contract only grants MTRCL the rights to operate train services. Therefore, he is not worried that the company will raise fares as it does in Hong Kong.

"It will only be responsible for the operational services of the light rail. They can't make a profit out of it. The ticket price will be decided by the government," he said.

The light rail project has been controversial due to cost overruns and delays.

The first proposal came in 2003. Following its initial rejection, it was eventually given a green light three years later.

The light rail's aim is to improve transport options between the Macau Peninsula, Taipa and Cotai, and to relieve traffic congestion.

The first phase includes 21 stations - 11 in Taipa and Cotai and 10 on the peninsula.

Au said the first phase was supposed to be completed by 2014. But, due to a string of technical issues and quarreling between the government and the contractors, the Taipa and Cotai section has been pushed back to next year, a delay of nearly 5 1/2 years.

Construction on the peninsula is on hold as the government has yet to decide on the route.

The estimated construction cost of Phase 1 was initially 4.2 billion patacas. However, the Taipa section alone has already cost 11 billion.

The government admitted earlier that it does not know when the first phase will be completed and the cost.

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