The costs for the troubled cross-border express railway are to increase by HK$18 billion to a massive HK$90 billion, the chairman of the Legislative Council transport panel stated.
Michael Tien Puk-sun said it is pragmatic to estimate that the construction cost of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will soar to HK$90 billion because of a two- year delay in the project.
“What I can only say about the cost is that the overbudget is higher than the one I estimated earlier, which was about HK$20 billion. The management said it was unacceptable and returned it to the subordinates for discussion again … HK$90 billion might be the final cost,” Tien said.
In 2010, the expected budget was HK$65 billion, but it rose to HK$71.52 billion in the latest amendment last year.
Tien urged the government to start discussing with the rail operator on how the soaring construction cost will be shared.
Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai criticized the government for not yet explaining to Legco how the government will share the cost with MTRCL.
Professional Commons Policy Committee convener Albert Lai Kwong-tak believes the final price may still be even higher as contractors make up for lost time in the delayed construction.
A spokesman for MTRCL said they had stated in last year’s annual report that the construction cost of the rail link will increase because of the complexities of the project.
The cost and deadline are still under review.