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Old December 15th, 2009, 05:12 PM   #221
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Rail link station 'faces year's delay'
5 December 2009
South China Morning Post

There will be a one-year delay in building the station for the cross-border express rail link if the number of shipping berths in West Kowloon is cut back as the chief secretary has requested, lawmakers were told yesterday.

The berths are for barges to carry away soil excavated for the railway, which will terminate at West Kowloon. Last week Henry Tang Ying-yen asked the Highways Department to scale the planned five berths back to two, to lessen their intrusion into the new cultural district's waterfront promenade. Five berths will occupy one hectare, and 1,000 metres of the arts hub's waterfront.

In a Legislative Council meeting yesterday, Highways Department director Wai Chi-sing told lawmakers that the work schedule of the station would be delayed by a year if only two berths were available.

About one-third of the 40-hectare arts hub site, or 14 hectares, will be used as a construction site and barging area for the railway station. These areas will be returned to the authority in stages from 2012 to 2014, a year before the West Kowloon Cultural District is due to open.

Lawmakers monitoring the arts hub project said they were worried the rail works might interrupt or delay its completion.

Dr Raymond Ho Chung-tai, who represents engineers in Legco, said: "Problems could arise when two large-scale projects are happening on the same site at the same time. Proper co-ordination is necessary. Would one of them be given a higher priority?"

Lee Wing-tat of the Democratic Party said lawmakers had not been informed of the full picture. "Would the rail station construction delay the arts hub project? Would the construction limit the planning of the arts hub?"

Patrick Lau Sau-shing, who represents architects, said uncertainty over the rail project could hinder the architects designing the arts hub. He urged the government to explain how the arts hub would be affected.

The occupation of the arts hub site by builders would also prevent the area from holding arts and cultural-related activities during the construction period.

Both projects are expected to be completed in 2015.

The chairman of the authority's development committee, Ronald Arculli, said the committee understood the complications of handling two projects at the same time, but he said the rail station would be a benefit for the arts hub.

Deputy home affairs secretary Cathy Chu Man-ling, who is responsible for the West Kowloon Cultural District, said the government had kept architects informed about the progress of the rail station's construction.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 06:24 PM   #222
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Last-ditch attempt to block funding for rail
16 December 2009
South China Morning Post

Activists opposed to the high-speed cross-border rail project are mobilising about 1,000 protesters to surround the Legislative Council building on Friday as a final attempt to block its funding.

Legco's Finance Committee is expected to approve HK$66.9 billion for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Link - including a contingency fund and compensation for land owners.

Polytechnic University associate professor Ho Chi-kwan, one of the activists, said the government had failed to clear doubts about the link.

"It is a huge amount of money," she said. "The government has given no explanation on how the estimated passenger flow is calculated."

Social welfare sector legislator Peter Cheung Kwok-che said the government should spend the money on helping the poor.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 09:52 AM   #223
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High-speed railway 'may boost HK as it has Tianjin'
15 December 2009
SCMP

A high-speed railway between Beijing and Tianjin boosted Tianjin's economic growth at the fastest rate of any mainland city this year, according to a national railway official - who adds that Hong Kong could reap similar rewards if it has the "attitude and determination" to build its own high-speed link to Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

The line, the official says, was responsible for a third of Tianjin's 16.8 per cent growth in gross domestic product.

Hong Kong officials have also predicted an economic boost from the link to the mainland high-speed network, of which the Tianjin line is part, after the Guangzhou line opens in 2015. But as Hong Kong is much more developed than Tianjin, expecting similar rates of growth is not realistic.

The Ministry of Railways said the Tianjin link, which cut the 120 kilometre journey to Beijing from two hours to 25 minutes, had increased traffic, tourism and investment for both cities, especially Tianjin.

Beijing's GDP growth is projected to reach 10 per cent this year, a breakthrough from the single-digit growth of recent years.

Ministry of Railways spokesman Wang Yongping said 20 million passengers rode on the Beijing-Tianjin link - currently the fastest train on the mainland with a top speed of 350km/h - in its first year of operation. Tianjin saw visitor numbers grow 20 per cent this year, with a 15 per cent increase in service-sector revenues over the first three quarters.

"We have entered the era of high-speed rail," Wang said. "Whether the same would happen to Hong Kong depends on its people's attitude and determination."

Hong Kong's HK$65.2 billion project has been opposed by academics and politicians, as well as villagers who would have to move to make way for the city's first high-speed link. But the plan's funding is expected to pass the Legislative Council's final scrutiny on Friday.

Hung Wing-tat, a transport researcher at Polytechnic University, said it would be difficult to quantify the link's economic benefit - and even more difficult to predict which cities would reap the greater benefit from better access. The Transport and Housing Bureau expects a daily average of 99,000 passengers - 70 per cent of them local - to take the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong link in 2016. Minister Eva Cheng said the actual patronage should be higher than 99,000, as that projection took into account only the natural growth of existing cross-border patronage, not newly generated clients - people who would not have travelled without the high-speed rail.

After linking to the mainland's high-speed network in 2015, it will take 14 minutes from West Kowloon to Futian in Shenzhen, 48 minutes to Shibi in Guangzhou, five hours to Wuhan and 10 hours to Beijing. The mainland's high-speed network will be completed by 2013.

A South China Morning Post reporter who took a ride on the Beijing-Tianjin link on Thursday found the train steady, quiet and the seats spacious. A one-way trip cost 59 yuan (HK$67) and the train was full. The model to be used on Hong Kong's high-speed line will be even faster and more modern.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 04:38 PM   #224
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Speech by STH on "Express Rail Link: The Fast Track to Future Economic Growth"
Monday, December 14, 2009
Government Press Release

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the luncheon meeting of the Hong Kong Institute of Directors, "Express Rail Link: The Fast Track to Future Economic Growth", today (December 14) :

Dr (Kelvin) Wong, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to join you at this luncheon hosted by the Hong Kong Institute of Directors.

Over the years, the Hong Kong Institute of Directors has made significant contributions in maintaining Hong Kong's competitiveness through its great efforts to promote good corporate governance. In this regard your members have helped advance the status of Hong Kong Inc., both in China and internationally. We share this very important mission. The vigorous cross-boundary infrastructure programme that we are currently undertaking also aims at ensuring that Hong Kong stays competitive in the long term.

It is widely recognised that world-class connectivity is the prerequisite for economic advancement, bringing markets closer and making them more accessible. For Hong Kong and the Mainland, cross-boundary infrastructure projects that will serve us for many years to come is essential to achieving this connectivity. Leaders of the business sector have come out unswervingly to support the Government's efforts, including many of you in this room, for which I am most grateful. I am pleased to point out that we have made significant progress. The construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will commence tomorrow. It will go a long way to improving the regional highway network and accessibility to the 50 million customer base in the western part of the Pearl River Delta and beyond.

Another cross-boundary project that has caught the public eye is the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, or XRL for short. Hong Kong's first high-speed railway that hopefully will come on stream in 2015 will completely change the way we travel and open up vast opportunities for businesses.

The XRL is strategically vital to Hong Kong. It will enable Hong Kong to connect with the 16,000-km national high-speed rail network, set to become the largest and most advanced of its kind in the world. The XRL will provide through train service to some 16 major Mainland cities, bringing Wuhan within five hours of Hong Kong, Xiamen in four hours, Shanghai in eight hours and Beijing within 10 hours. And our terminus is in West Kowloon, so most commercial districts including Central and Tsim Sha Tsui will be accessible within 15 minutes from the terminus by rail or by road. In other words we are building a domestic airport right in the heart of town that will offer a premium railway service (running at 100m per second) to these cities, but without the hassle of air travel. This also means access to cities south of Wuhan within a five hour radius is probably more efficient by high speed rail than by air. This customer base, counting the cities alone, boasts 80 million people.

Many people ask, and it is a legitimate question, what economic and social benefits the XRL will bring. Last Friday I took a group of journalists on the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity High Speed Railway, the first leg of that 16,000 km network I just mentioned. The 120-kilometre journey from Beijing to Tianjin took less than 30 minutes, offering both speed and comfort. The patronage in its first year of operation already reached 18.7 million, exceeding the original forecast. This first ever intercity line offers a good reference for Hong Kong as we ponder the benefits for ourselves. Economically it has stimulated investment and consumption for both cities. Socially it has provided a wider choice – opening up new options for job locations, leisure trips or even social ties. Environmentally the high speed railway reduces carbon emission by roughly 85% compared with air travel and 75% compared with buses.

The same benefits will be enjoyed by Hong Kong. Simply quantifying passenger time savings, the economic benefits of the XRL over 50 years of operation already amounts to some $87 billion, representing a very decent economic internal rate of return of 6%.

But we should go beyond just numbers. We believe that enhanced connectivity between Hong Kong and the Mainland will open up a wealth of new business opportunities. The ease and hence increase in contacts of residents of Hong Kong and the Mainland will facilitate the integration of the labour and consumer markets in the Pearl River Delta
Region. The greater synergy and complementarity so created will boost the overall productivity in the region, bringing direct benefits to Hong Kong.

The increase in Mainland visitors for our tourism, retail and catering sectors will also bring substantial economic gain and create jobs. It is only natural that there will be more Mainland residents coming to Hong Kong for day or weekend trips with the convenience offered by the XRL. The purchasing power of Mainland visitors has been more than felt in the past few years since the introduction of the Individual Visitors' Scheme. Taking a rough but conservative estimation – by assuming 10% of induced Mainland visitor trips (i.e., people coming to Hong Kong more frequently simply because of the ease of travel) - the additional spending brought about in Hong Kong could amount to $3 to $6 billion every year. By the same token, more Mainland customers will be attracted to come to Hong Kong for our wide range of professional services, whether banking, insurance, medical, legal or accounting, services in demand by an increasingly sophisticated and affluent customer base in the Mainland.

At a very practical level, just forget about such high level analysis for the moment, for those of us who have to make business trips to the Mainland, and I doubt if anyone can escape from this routine nowadays, saving travelling time means more time for the family and achieving better work-life balance. That applies to everyone, employer or employee. So it baffles me that some people suggest that the XRL is just for the rich or just for West Kowloon residents. Strategic infrastructure projects serve everyone and all businesses in Hong Kong.

At this point, I cannot help reflecting on the similarity of our XRL project with the Eurostar linking Britain and France in the 1980s. There were then heated discussions regarding the cost/benefit of the project when it was mooted. But the situation in Britain and France today only proves the concerns unfounded. The Eurostar has brought closer ties among the people of not only Britain and France, but also those living on the Continent. Many of us have also taken advantage of the Eurostar to enjoy multi-stop vacations in Europe. It is only reasonable to expect that many of our international guests in future will land at our airport, stay a few days in Hong Kong and proceed to several Mainland cities by the XRL and return to Hong Kong before they head home.

In case you still have any lingering doubts, let me assure you that the XRL is not the most expensive in the world. Like with like, it costs less than the Channel Tunnel, which costs US $488 million per kilometre at today's price. The cost of the Hong Kong section of the XRL is high because we are building 26km of tunnels so as to avoid many environmental problems. Plus the fact that we are submerging the station below ground level to give back as much open space and greenery to the community.

Ladies and gentlemen, in a few days' time, the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council will discuss our funding application for the Hong Kong section of the XRL. The project has been discussed for nearly 10 years. There is clear community consensus for its early construction. We cannot afford to wait any more. The Guangzhou section which we will connect to will be completed in phases by 2012.

The Wuhan to Guangzhou section was test run a few days ago and broke the world record by running at 394km per hour. Subject to the funding approval, the construction of the XRL will start this month for completion in 2015. Let's get on with the fast track for future economic growth.

On this forward looking note, let me wish you all good health and a happy festive season ahead. Thank you.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 03:50 AM   #225
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Opinion : Planned rail link
18 December 2009
South China Morning Post

David Akers-Jones ("Why we need new rail link", December 9) has twisted the discussion on this issue into something very different from what it actually is.

The opposition is not against an express train service, but rather an inferior plan that does not fully serve the transport needs of Hong Kong people.

There are 12 through trains each way, every day, that best serve only passengers in southern Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

I use this train service, which is almost never fully patronised, but I also use the Guangshen high-speed rail service just as frequently, as do many Hong Kong residents. Anyone living in the New Territories finds it more convenient to cross the border at Lo Wu.

Additionally, the China Railway high-speed (CRH) service has been extended from Guangzhou East to Guangzhou main station, and now connects with both newly opened and extended Guangzhou Metro lines, via the main station, further enhancing its convenience over that of the through train.

Hong Kong's proposed high-speed rail can only attract passengers away from Lo Wu and the many through bus services, by offering superior convenience to a broad section of the city's residents.

This means multiple and better rail-to-rail interconnections within Hong Kong, not just a grandiose terminal at the bottom end of Kowloon.

The government's mistake with the express rail, and indeed the bridge to Macau, is that it seems intent on building two immense legacy projects, rather than creating a holistic transport infrastructure that tightly connects all parts of the SAR first and foremost, and then connects Hong Kong to Guangdong.

This excessive expenditure is leaving needed local rail projects grossly underfunded and delayed. It is in Hong Kong's best interests to be more than just a speedy conduit to somewhere else.

Ralph Bishop, Pok Fu Lam
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Old December 18th, 2009, 01:42 PM   #226
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Free passage for rail link as 'no' vote nullified
3 December 2009
South China Morning Post

Opponents of the government's plan to build a HK$65.2 billion high-speed railway to Guangzhou yesterday forced a lawmaker who supports the project to step down temporarily as chairman of the subcommittee that will decide if the project receives funding - but the move ultimately backfired on them.

Subcommittee vice-chairman Alan Leong Ka-kit, a Civic Party legislator and one of nine lawmakers who oppose the plan, had to step in to replace Raymond Ho Chung-tai as chairman. This effectively nullified Leong's opposing vote, as the chairman can only vote in a tie-breaker.

With 12 of the 23 subcommittee members eligible to vote supporting the project, it is now almost certain that the funding will be approved in today's vote.

Two members, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Leung Ka-lau, have yet to declare their positions.

Ho said he would not vote and stepped down from his position as chairman after James To Kun-sun of the Democratic Party challenged his role as a non-executive director of a company that will be bidding for the project's contracts.

"I have no direct vested interest, but I will stop chairing the meeting anyway for the good image of the Legislative Council," Ho said.

Independent lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan then demanded that another lawmaker who supports the railway, New Territories landowner Lau Wong-fat, declare whether he and his companies stood to gain from the project. Lau refused.

The remainder of the lawmakers on the sub-committee all declared they had no conflict of interest.

The voting, originally scheduled for yesterday, was postponed to 2.30pm today because lawmakers raised many questions concerning the railway's impact on Tai Kok Tsui residents and the area's redevelopment potential.

Philip Yung Wai-hung, deputy secretary for transport and housing, said the residents could claim losses in relation to redevelopment values a year after the place had been redeveloped, adding that the bureau was happy to provide them with relevant information including the area's port ratio and allowed building density.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 01:50 PM   #227
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To put in perspective, the whole argument against the WK terminus would be similar to calling for Eurostar to be teriminated at Folkestone in the UK and Calais in France. The project is indeed expensive, but what is the point of building a terminus in the middle of "nowhere"? Honestly, residents in the NW New Territorities should continue traveling to SZ for the highspeed rail transport there if they find it cheaper and easier to do so. The whole project from the get go was exclusively designed with the big businesses in mind.

Sadly, the Hong Kong Government will always take care of the needs and profits of the big businesses at the great expense of everyday folks.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 04:08 PM   #228
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Originally Posted by aab7772003 View Post
To put in perspective, the whole argument against the WK terminus would be similar to calling for Eurostar to be teriminated at Folkestone in the UK and Calais in France. The project is indeed expensive, but what is the point of building a terminus in the middle of "nowhere"? Honestly, residents in the NW New Territorities should continue traveling to SZ for the highspeed rail transport there if they find it cheaper and easier to do so. The whole project from the get go was exclusively designed with the big businesses in mind.

Sadly, the Hong Kong Government will always take care of the needs and profits of the big businesses at the great expense of everyday folks.
Then what about the folks that are in HKI and Kowloon? If the same argument for residents in NW NT is valid without question, then the same argument can apply to people in the south if the terminus were moved north.

But then who do you think in going to use the HSR the most, the day-to-day resident live in Yuen Long, Tin Tsui Wai and Tuen Mun? Or the business people work and live in Kowloon and HKI?
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Old December 18th, 2009, 05:35 PM   #229
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Reread my post again. Obviously, your English comprehension skill is not quite there yet.

Last edited by aab7772003; December 19th, 2009 at 04:29 PM.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 07:50 PM   #230
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Reread my post again. Obviously, your English comprehensive skill is not quite there yet.
The way I read your statement, I THINK you agree the terminus should be in WK. I am just arguing those folks who thinks the terminus should be in Kam Sheung Road should put their arguments in a HKI/Kowloon resident perspective.

Two, the target users are project depending. This HSR is definitely targeted for the business people to/and from the CBD and the mainland who works and lives in HKI and Kowloon, because they will be the primarily users There is nothing wrong to focus this project for the business world. This is not building a bus terminus for INTRA-city, but a HSR terminus for INTER-city.

P.S. Sorry, if you think my English is not up to your standard, but I am surviving in an English world with a professional job. But that's BS to pick on someone else English grammar and/or use of English, and not try to further explain your thought or clarify. Especially in this international forum when English isn't the first language for many of the fellow forumers.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 08:16 PM   #231
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Indeed, mostly businessmen will use the service. I am sure they can pay more than HKD 198 o/w for the service rather than having the whole Hong Kong subsidizing their travels.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #232
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Indeed, mostly businessmen will use the service. I am sure they can pay more than HKD 198 o/w for the service rather than having the whole Hong Kong subsidizing their travels.
I agree 198 is rather a low cost ticket price, but who build and maintain expressways for buses and cars in HK? If I ride the MTR everyday and don't use the road at all, does it mean I have a choice to say my tax money can't be used to build and maintain roadways. Or if I drive or I am a bus rider, does that mean the government can't subsidize the MTR to construct rail by any mean?

Using the same logic, HKIA shouldn't even be there, majority of the people using it are transfer travellers who don't even step into HK, but HK paid and built the giant man-made island, exclusive railroads, new expresways etc. etc.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 01:15 AM   #233
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Your logic is flawed, especially with the HKIA and the MTR examples. Passengers, airlines and the shops at the airport pay for day-to-day operations of the airport. Everyone knows that MTR actually makes money because of its real estate business. I am sure that the HSR train fare cannot even pay for the operation cost of the railroad.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 01:56 AM   #234
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The MTR's railway operations are profitable by themselves.

The HK HSR link just doesn't smell right. There can be a station at Kam Sheung Road, and then the line could follow the West Rail Line south through the tunnel. In Tsuen Wan the express trains would diverge into its own tunnel which eventually leads to the terminal at West Kowloon.

I'm sure this suggestion will shave off many billions off tunnelling and blasting, while only adding a few minutes to a passenger's journey.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 02:57 AM   #235
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The HK HSR link just doesn't smell right. There can be a station at Kam Sheung Road, and then the line could follow the West Rail Line south through the tunnel. In Tsuen Wan the express trains would diverge into its own tunnel which eventually leads to the terminal at West Kowloon.

I'm sure this suggestion will shave off many billions off tunnelling and blasting, while only adding a few minutes to a passenger's journey.
Could you enlighten me how you shave off many billions by building longer tunnels and rails?
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Old December 19th, 2009, 12:16 PM   #236
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Could you enlighten me how you shave off many billions by building longer tunnels and rails?
I understood that the proposal was to use an already existing long tunnel and only build a short new tunnel, instead of building a new long tunnel.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 10:19 AM   #237
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Opponents of high-speed rail link claim victory as pan-democrats delay funding
19 December 2009
SCMP

Opponents of a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail line claimed victory yesterday after pan-democrat lawmakers succeeded in delaying the expected funding of the controversial project.

That means construction of the HK$66.9 billion Guangzhou-Hong Kong-Shenzhen Express Link cannot begin before the end of this year, as scheduled.

Lawmakers from the Civic Party and the League of Social Democrats were cheered by about 1,000 students, activists and villagers after they stepped out from the Legislative Council's finance committee meeting at 7pm.

"We must continue to fight in the next meeting," Wong Yuk-man of the League of Social Democrats told the crowd.

The committee will resume discussions on January 8.

Yesterday's meeting was scheduled to last for four hours from 3pm, but the actual discussion on the project's funding did not begin until 6pm, as Ronnie Tong Ka-wah of the Civic Party said the committee must first address the issue of legislators' declarations of interest.

"Some lawmakers are paid directors of companies that have publicly declared their interests in this project. Isn't it a conflict of interest for them to vote?" he said.

Raymond Ho Chung-tai, a non-executive director of China State Construction International Holdings, a subsidiary of which has expressed interest in bidding for the project, withdrew from chairing a public works subcommittee meeting that determined whether the project should be recommended to the Finance Committee for voting. Abraham Razack, a non-executive director of the MTR Corporation, was on sick leave. But Tong said the pair had voted in other meetings, which may have caused unfair decisions on the project - such as banning his suggestion of setting up an independent task force to study an alternative route that could halve the cost. Tong demanded that the meeting be suspended for the government to study that option.

Legco's legal adviser said decisions made in other meetings had no bearing on the finance committee, and Ho's and Razack's interest in the project did not add up to direct monetary gain. The committee rejected Tong's motion to suspend the meeting by 27-23.

Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats then demanded more discussion concerning lawmakers' conflicts of interest, but it was again banned by the committee.

By then three hours had passed and the meeting had to be adjourned as there was not enough time left for discussion of the funding.

Pan Pey-chyou of the Federation of Trade Unions said the public was tired of such arguments. "Some lawmakers [picked] on every point in a bid to delay the project. What is the meaning of such behaviour?"

But Tong denied it was a delaying tactic, saying they genuinely questioned the effectiveness of the project. Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng said the government would try to answer all their questions, but any further delay could result in the project costing more. A senior government official said last night the administration was determined to build the line. "It will delay, but not change, things," the official said.

Trains will begin running on the 26 kilometre Hong Kong section three years after the national high-speed rail network is completed in 2013.

Legco has discussed the project's route and location of the terminus for 10 years. A local expert group, Professional Commons, proposed another option two months ago, after the project's cost jumped by nearly half because of a surge in the cost of construction material.

After yesterday's meeting, hundreds of activists and protesters celebrated their victory with pan-democrat lawmakers, though no Democratic Party members showed up for the celebration.

Before the start of the meeting, the activists staged a rally outside Legco in a final attempt to block funding approval for the railway. Among them were Tsoi Yuen Tsuen villagers and residents of Tai Kok Tsui whose homes would be affected by the rail link. But most were students.

Chan Ping-fung, a final-year student at Chinese University, is one of the core members of a group of young people opposed to the rail link.

"There are students, teachers, artists and people from all walks of life," she said. "It is the first time for us to ally different social groups to stand against this very expensive project."

Ellen Wong, a Form Six student who joined the protest, said: "It is unreasonable to build a rail link using such a huge amount of public money. It is not right."
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 09:32 AM   #238
zergcerebrates
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Ugh. China should just pay for everything regarding to the Hong Kong part and get this project started. Hong Kong can concentrate on compensating the people. I believe this project will get built, China probably wants it done as well.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 10:53 AM   #239
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It doesn't make sense to keep HK out of the HSR service, but it should not be done at all costs. China won't pay for the HK side. That'll be a violation of the 'one country two principles' doctrine.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 09:43 PM   #240
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
It doesn't make sense to keep HK out of the HSR service, but it should not be done at all costs. China won't pay for the HK side. That'll be a violation of the 'one country two principles' doctrine.
In 40 years, they will be one country anyway
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