Rail operator pledges tweaks after debacle

Top News | Amy Nip 21 May 2020

MTR Corp chief executive Jacob Kam Chak-pui said the rail operator is improving its project management mechanism following the release of an investigation report into the blunders of the Sha Tin to Central Rail Link.

Chairman Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen urged lawmakers to approve the HK$10.8 billion in additional funds to ensure the full opening of Tuen Ma line next year and the cross-harbor section in 2022.

A government-appointed commission of inquiry published its final report last week on the bar-cutting scandal at Hung Hom station, concluding that MTRC and its contractor Leighton were "responsible for serious deficiencies," while the government, as the overseer, was also partly responsible.

Kam said the rail operator has followed the commission's recommendations in improving its management of construction sites.

Since February last year, MTRC has used digital inspection forms and no records have gone missing since.

As for whether it will sue Leighton or ban it from future tenders, both executives said the MTRC will follow up with Leighton if it is found that the contractor failed to deliver in accordance to its contract.

Plunging passenger numbers during the pandemic have seen the rail operator lose HK$1.3 billion in revenue in January and February alone. Kam hopes there will be an improvement once the outbreak is under control.

The global crisis has interrupted the supply of materials for building the link and left the company in search of alternative sources.

But the MTRC is maintaining its original target opening dates and is working to keep costs from going up further - with the latest bill rising to HK$91.4 billion.

On whether the MTRC plans to sue people who destroy MTR facilities for compensation, Kam there are several ongoing court cases concerning damaging of the facilities and that MTRC will respect whatever rulings are made.

amy.nip@singtaonewscorp.com

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