Scandal-plagued rail link set to roll

Top News | Charlotte Luo 19 Jul 2019

The scandal-hit Shatin-Central Link will be partly opened in the first quarter next year, with trains running between Tai Wai Station and the new Kai Tak Station. The MTR Corp will pick up the extra cost of HK$2 billion.

Trains will pass through the Diamond Hill Station extension and new Hin Keng Station, benefiting 40,000 residents in the old Kai Tak area.

The section from Kai Tak to Hung Hom has to wait for reinforcement work at Hung Hom extension to be completed.

The total cost of the link will increase from the original HK$97.1 billion to HK$99.1 billion.

Transport and Housing Secretary Frank Chan Fan said the part opening was the best option, and would help relieve peak-hour crowds on the East Rail Line.

The MTR said the trip from Tai Wai to Diamond Hill would be cut to seven minutes from 17 minutes at present.

The government had approved two reports complied by MTRC over construction matters on the Hung Hom Station extension and missing documents. Chan said the reports showed the work at the station requires reinforcement and the MTRC will follow up with its contractor.

MTRC projects director Roger Bayliss said the company proposed a series of measures to reinforce the station.

These included installation of steel supporting structures and localized slab thickening.

Operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing said details of the measures are subject to design and acceptance from the government, which will take four to six months.

Lau estimated it would take nine to 12 months to complete the work on site after that.

Chan said there will be long-term monitoring of the structure upon completion of the work, tentatively in late 2020 or early 2021. "Taking into account the testing and trial runs, the Tai Wai to Hung Hom Station section can only be fully commissioned before the end of 2021," Chan said.

It will cover new stations at Sung Wong Toi, To Kwa Wan and Ho Man Tin.

The link will be finally extended to Admiralty via a new station at the Wan Chai exhibition center. Chan said the opening date needs further evaluation.

Democrat Helena Wong Pik-wan questioned if the HK$2 billion would be used to carry out consolidation work at Hung Hom Station following the steel bar controversy. If so, the party would strongly oppose it.

"The contractor should be held responsible for mistakes in construction made in Hung Hom Station, not the government as the biggest shareholder of MTRC," she said. "The government should go after contractor Leighton."

She called on the government to consider extending the part opening to Ho Man Tin Station.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said the government and MTRC could not convince the public that only reinforcements are required to ensure safety.

She questioned if it will cause expensive maintenance and repair fees in the future, or even partly close the station for renovation.

The main contractor of the link, Leighton Contractors, was accused of cutting short reinforcement bars in the Hung Hom Station extension.

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