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Macau LRT Project Receives New Funding

Hong Kong is well known for its ongoing construction of mega rail projects. In recent years we have seen the construction of the high speed rail link to China and various multi $$$ MTR extension projects undertaken, including the most recent Shatin to Central Link project.

With all of this rail stuff going on in Hong Kong you might not know that just down the road, the glitzy casino resort enclave of Macau is building its own train set. Since 2011 one of Macau’s largest infrastructure projects has been taking shape which is the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) rail system project. With construction not expected to complete until 2019 let’s take a look at the progress so far, the problems encountered and the future of the project.  

Progress

The Macau LRT was first proposed in 2003. Following its initial rejection, the green light eventually came in 2006. The LRT will be a driverless rubber-tyred system, similar to the Singapore LRT. The Phase I line will run along elevated tracks above the road traffic and is designed to improve transport options between Macau Peninsula, Taipa and Cotai. Once completed it will be the first rapid transit system in Macau and will help relieve the traffic congestion on the roads and the island connecting bridges.

The estimated construction cost of Phase 1 (with 21 stations) was revised in June 2011 from MOP 7.5 billion to MOP 11 billion. Main construction work began in February 2012 in Taipa with this section of works planned to be operating by 2019/2020. A further Macau Peninsula section is planned to be operating sometime by the early 2020s.

Problems

It is well documented that construction work on the LRT has encountered substantial problems and delays. Building works for the Taipa section which is nearly 10kms and includes 11 stations serving the Cotai casino resorts, were originally due for completion in 2016, with track and systems installed during 2017. However, it appears these dates have now been pushed back to 2019.

The Macau government has conceded the delays to the Taipa section were caused by setbacks in the construction of a rail depot on Taipa resulting in the early termination of the contractor concerned costing the government a cool MOP85 million.

Future

The government recently outsourced the construction of the depot works through a contract worth over MOP1billion. The depot is a crucial element of the LRT project and construction has already recommenced in an attempt to help meet the latest project completion date of 2019. The depot structure is one of five major projects within the Taipa section comprising an operations control center, a factory and a maintenance building, parking & cleaning bays and a 600 m train testing track.

As the government looks to turn the project around with further investment, future construction works will certainly create opportunities for M&E engineers, planners and quantity surveyors. If you’re interested to learn more about the ongoing rail projects in Macau or Hong Kong please get in touch and I’d be happy to discuss the opportunities available.

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Richard Poulter
Middle East, Hong Kong & Asia Construction Recruitment Specialist

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