MTR Corp pressed over latest cost estimates for Express Rail Link

MTR Corp pressed over latest cost estimates for Express Rail Link

The government has demanded clarification from MTR Corp Ltd on how it calculated the latest increases in estimates for the Express Rail Link to the mainland, according to the transport chief.

In June, the government announced a further delay to the third quarter of 2018, with cost hikes of HK$20 billion to HK$85.3 billion for the Guangzhou- Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, based on the latest MTRCL projections.

The latest estimate is 31 percent more than the original budget of HK$65 billion, and 19.3 percent more than the revised estimate of HK$71.5 billion submitted in August 2014.

Director of Highways Lau Ka-keung and his department’s monitoring and verification consultant have carried out comprehensive evaluation and verification of the information handed in by the railway company, Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said yesterday.

“From my understanding, preliminary verification has been completed. The director of highways has demanded MTRCL make some clarifications and to submit supporting documents,” Cheung said.

“When all the verification is completed, the government will report to the public and to the Legislative Council.”

The government is concerned about the rising budget, and hopes there will be a ceiling, Cheung said.

He did not spell out how the increase will be shared between the government and MTRCL.

“As to responsibility (for costs) … we have been undergoing a serious review on whether MTRCL, as the project manager, has fulfilled its responsibility in controlling the scheduled process and costs.”

Separately, MTRCL chairman Raymond Ch’ien Kuo-fung said he is confident of the latest estimate handed to the government.

Attending the company’s Hong Kong Race Walking competition in Central yesterday, Ch’ien met protesters who demanded a review of the MTR fare adjustment mechanism.

They flew paper airplanes at Ch’ien, whose chairmanship will be taken up by former commerce secretary Frederick Ma Si-hang in January 2016.

The rail operator raised fares by 4.3 percent in June the sixth consecutive annual hike although it posted a HK$15.6 billion profit last year.

 

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