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Hong Kong’s Current and Future Rail Strategy

Hong Kong’s MTR rail system is already known as one of the world’s leading transport systems and it has regularly been expanded with further lines, stations and improvements.  HK$ Billions have already been invested to expand the network with huge construction projects currently under construction. For example the most recent expansion project to start – Shatin to Central Link, is expected to cost in the region of HK$65 Billion. Clearly there is willingness to invest heavily in Hong Kong’s transport systems and this is further emphasized by the publication of the 2014 Railway Development Strategy.

The Strategy
The Railway Development Strategy 2014 (RDS2014) follows on from the previous 2000 strategy which looks at the viability and planning for the future expansion of Hong Kong’s railway network up until 2031. The future railways extension projects will be subject to extensive engineering, environmental and financial studies including detailed assessment of available resources (labor, materials, expertise) to undertake a new wave of large scale rail expansion. 

The Policy
Hong Kong needs a comprehensive public transport system to service its ever expanding population, and this is pertinent to people's livelihood, economic development and protection of the environment. The overall policy is to develop an affordable, accessible, efficient and environmentally friendly public transport system providing diverse choices for the travelling public.

The current railways network carries over 4.5 million passengers per day – accounting for 40% of all public transport trips made in Hong Kong daily. At present, the total length of Hong Kong’s railways is approximately 218 km, with 84 railway stations and 68 Light Rail stops. Five railway projects are currently under construction or nearing completion:  West Island Line (WIL), South Island Line (SIL), Kwun Tong Line Extension (KTE), Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), and the Shatin to Central Link (SCL). These latest extension lines will ensure areas inhabited by more than 70% of the population in Hong Kong will be brought into the railway catchment areas. 

The population and employment forecasts as well as land use planning for Hong Kong are key drivers of public transport demands. New railway expansion projects are designed to speed up passenger flow and help reduce road congestion and vehicle induced air pollution by reducing the reliance on road based travel. The future rail policy will be based around 3 key objectives: Coverage, Connectivity and Capacity.

COVERAGE: The coverage of the existing and committed railway network should be extensive, providing railway service to most of the major residential and commercial areas, allowing people to use the railway service by accessing the railway stations on foot or with the use of feeder services. 

CONNECTIVITY: The railway service should provide easy connections to densely populated locations whilst allowing inter-regional trips without having to make significant detours. The railway network should be able to connect different parts across the territory more efficiently

CAPACITY: The overall capacity of the railway network should increase considerably upon the completion of the committed railway projects and is expected to be generally sufficient to meet the transport demand in the short to medium terms. 

Future Rail Extensions
On completion of all the recommended schemes, the network will include the following new railway lines, extensions and stations: 

  • Northern Link and Kwu Tung Station – a major regional line formed by linking the Kam Sheung Road Station on the West Rail Line to a new station at Kwu Tung on the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line.
  • Hung Shui Kiu Station – a new station on the West Rail Line between the existing Tin Shui Wai Station and Siu Hong Station.
  • Tung Chung West Extension – formed by extending the Tung Chung Line westward with a new station at Tung Chung West.
  • Tuen Mun South Extension – formed by extending the West Rail Line southward from the Tuen Mun Station to a new station at Tuen Mun South.
  • East Kowloon Line – a new line running in the northern East Kowloon area connecting the Diamond Hill Station of the Kwun Tong Line (and the future Shatin to Central Link) and the Po Lam Station of the Tseung Kwan O Line.
  • South Island Line (West) – a new line linking the South Island Line (East) to the West Island Line.
  • North Island Line – a new railway line on the northern shore of the Hong Kong Island formed by extending the Tung Chung Line eastward and the Tseung Kwan O Line westward.

The new railway projects are all of relatively smaller scale, in view of the fact that the railway network (taking existing lines and committed projects together) is already quite comprehensive. If all the new projects recommended in the Strategy are completed, the total length of the railways will lengthen from 270 km in 2021 to over 300 km by 2031, and the number of stations in the whole network will increase from 99 in 2021 to 114 by 2031.

The preliminary cost estimate of all the seven recommended railway schemes is in the order of HK$110 billion. 

With the existing wave of rail projects already well under construction and the new wave of developments already under planning the future for the rail related construction in Hong Kong is bright. With tunnelling, stations, track works and a range of other construction works associated with these projects there are some excellent job opportunities for construction professionals looking to work on these landmark projects.

Tim Cole
Maxim Recruitment
Hong Kong and Asia Region 

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