Hong Kong unveils €11bn railway upgrade

The projects will be built in phases from 2018 to 2026

Onboard Hong Kong’s MTR: the city’s mass transit rail network is generally on time, clean and efficient. photograph: mike clarke/afp/getty images

Onboard Hong Kong’s MTR: the city’s mass transit rail network is generally on time, clean and efficient. photograph: mike clarke/afp/getty images

 

Anyone who has visited Hong Kong can attest to the smooth running of its mass transit rail (MTR) trains, which are well networked and are generally on time, clean and efficient.

But these are turbulent times politically in Hong Kong, as democrats wrestle with Beijing over full elections for the former crown colony, and the MTR Corporation, which runs the subway system, has been under the gun recently.

The biggest talking point is that a stray dog was killed by a train because controllers did not want to delay the service to try to rescue the hound, even though it sought to clamber up on to the platform. Animal rights’ activists are furious more was not done to rescue the dog, which was hit by an express train from Guangzhou and its body discovered one station along the track, in Fanling.

Another major topic of discussion in the territory has been delays of up to two years and spiralling costs on three projects by the MTR Corporation, including a cross-border link between Kowloon and the mainland Chinese city of Guangzhou.

The delays forced the former chief executive of the MTR Corporation, Jay Walder, who used to run the New York subway, to step down after three years in the position.

Last week the Transport and Housing Bureau launched a blueprint which will see expansion into many of Hong Kong’s more remote districts, including four new lines, extra stations, and extensions to the existing Tung Chung and West Rail lines.

The projects will be built in phases from 2018 to 2026 but one thing which is worrying developers is whether there will be enough construction workers to build the lines, with some analysts reckon there is a shortage of 8,000 to 10,000 workers.

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