A shelved HK$110 billion plan to build the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Express Line has been given new life after the government says it will cooperate with the mainland in researching its feasibility.
Currently there is no timetable for constructing the railway, the Transport and Housing Bureau said yesterday.
The original plan for the link includes three sections – two cross-border and one domestic.
The first connects the Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports and the second runs between Qianhai and Yuen Long. The third runs between Tuen Mun and Tung Chung.
It was shelved by the government in 2014 due to low demand and the high construction cost of more than HK$110 billion for just the Hong Kong section.
It was put on hold until 2031 at the earliest.
However, some web users and concern groups recently discovered that the infrastructure project appeared in a Greater Bay Area blueprint.
That triggered questions over whether the line would be revived.
The project was mentioned in a Greater Bay Area three-year plan announced by the Guangdong government in May, which stated that provincial authorities will “cooperate with Hong Kong in pushing the planning and construction of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Express Line.”
In response, a Transport and Housing Bureau spokesman said yesterday the government has been closely monitoring the development in Qianhai – a special economic zone in Shenzhen – and is keeping an eye on demand for additional cross-border transport channels.
“The government will jointly conduct studies and research with relevant mainland authorities to look into the feasibility of the railway, as well as its need, position and cost-effectiveness,” he said.
“Such research is a long-term plan. There is no actual timetable or detailed plan for now. We will have to wait until research results come out to make considerations about development in the future.”
Yeung Ha-chi from the Liber Research Community said the Shenzhen government has listed the project in its 13th five-year plan back in 2015.
“We can see from here and there that the mainland government has not given up on the railway construction,” he said.
He said the rail was shelved due to its incredibly high cost. If it is revived, the cost will be vastly higher.
“Does it all of a sudden become financially feasible because it’s put under the framework of Greater Bay Area infrastructure? I’m afraid it’d become a cross-border white elephant,” Yeung said.
“The Transport and Housing Bureau should tell the public whether the Hong Kong government was included in the plan without any notice, or if it has been secretly cooperating with the mainland government and hiding it from citizens.”
The Highways Department stated in a report in 2014, construction of the rail link would involve building an under-sea railway tunnel.