Express Rail Link on time, says MTR

Projects, Slider 27 Aug 2013
Express Rail Link on time, says MTR

Completion still scheduled for 2015 despite claims for delay

Railway operator MTR Corporation (0066) is insisting that its troubled Express Rail Link is still on track for completion and on time, apparently unfazed by recent claims that the project’s key terminal station could be at least one and a half years late.

Releasing its interim results Monday, the company said it was still pencilling in 2015 as scheduled completion for the high speed cross-boundary railway that will connect Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong as well as linking into the high speed rail network of the rest of China.

According to company estimates, as of 30 June 2013, the 26 kilometre link was 41 percent complete.

At the West Kowloon Terminal station, the concrete structure for it was 17 percent complete while the diaphragm walls for the approach tunnel have been completed.

For the tunnelling work, the company said tunnel breakthrough has been achieved at Kwai Chung and the last tunnel boring machine has been launched from Mai Po.

“By end June 2013, 78 percent of all tunnel and adit excavations had been achieved,” the company said in a press release.

Last May, Chinese newspapers Apple Daily and Mingpao Daily, quoting leaked project documents, both reported that the West Kowloon Terminus North contract could be late by at least 562 days and that the main contractor Leighton-Gammon Joint Venture was claiming additional costs of at least HK$1.55 billion.

The company’s press release did not offer comment on the latest situation regarding the claims.

Earlier this month, the Labour Department ordered work to stop for about a week at the Lai Chi Kok site of one of the contracts for the Express Rail Link after a German tunnellng technician was buried briefly by soil while working in a tunnel.

The West Kowloon Terminus North construction site of the Express Rail Link on 19 August 2013. The MTRC says the link is still on schedule for completion in 2015   (Danny Chung)

The West Kowloon Terminus North construction site of the Express Rail Link on 19 August 2013. The MTRC says the link is still on schedule for completion in 2015 (Danny Chung)

Adding to the MTRC’s things-to-do list was a strike held yesterday by 200 disgruntled workers at the Cheung Wing Road site of the Kwai Chung section of the Express Rail Link.

The workers were complaining about being forced to eat their meals inside the tunnel where temperatures were oppressively hot and a penalty system imposed by the main contractor Leighton Contractors (Asia) that deducted wages for turning up late for work.

However the strike was called off later in the evening after an agreement was reached on the grievances.

On a happier note, the company reported profit attributable to shareholders totalling HK$6.16 billion for the six months to 30 June 2013, up 6.4 percent year-on-year.

Of this total of HK$6.16 billion, HK$3.8 billion was generated from the company’s underlying businesses before property development, up eight percent year-on-year.

The profit from property developments from sales of inventory flats at The Riverpark, Island Harbourview and Lake Silver, however dropped 14.7 percent to HK$447 million.

Total revenue climbed 12 percent to HK$19.2 billion.

The company  said income for its project management services to the government, mostly for the entrustment works for the Express Rail Link and Shatin to Central Link and booked on a cost recovery basis, was HK$670 million during the reporting period, up 102.4 percent year-on-year.

Danny Chung



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