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Good news: LegCo wants to hear the alternative views.
Members of the Legislative Council agreed today to hear the Express Rail Expert Group on their (much cheaper) alternative for connecting Hong Kong with the National Express Rail Network, before they agree on the Government’s request for funding. For information go to www.betterrail4hk.org

Bad news: Can you trust your Government?
Can the members of the Legislative Council trust the briefing papers for the Government's proposal for the HK$63.2bln Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link?

Judge for yourself - here is one example.

Item 88, in the Government’s paper on the Express Rail:
"
We also consulted the Sub-committee on Harbour Plan Review of the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee (HEC Sub-committee) on the temporary construction facilities at works areas at harbour fronts and seawall modification at West Kowloon seafront. The HEC-Sub-committee took note of the proposed works areas along the seafronts and did not raise any adverse comments on the proposal." 

Item 6.7 of the minutes of the meeting between Government,
MTR and the Sub-committee on Harbour Plan review of the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee, 18 March 2009:
"The Chairman remarked that the role of the Sub-committee was to promote harbour-front enhancement. The Subcommittee had great concern on the size of the proposed works area along the seafront. Without a comprehensive picture on the future development and implementation programme of the WKCD including its interface with the surrounding developments, the Sub-committee, instead of lending support, could only take note of the proposed works area."

The Sub-committee reported on its concern to the full Harbourfront Enhancement Committee on 13 May 2009 in similar words. Click here for the report.




Below please find the minutes of the discussions in the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee on 18 March 2009:

Item 6 -
Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link – Temporary Construction Facilities at Works Area at Harbour Fronts and Sea Wall Modification at West Kowloon Seafront (Paper No. 7/2009)

6.1 The following representatives of the Project Team were invited to the meeting:

Mr Tang Pak-hung and Mr Calum Smith of the MTRCL
Mr Li Kin-tung of Highways Department

6.2 After a powerpoint presentation by the Project Team, Members raised the following comments/questions:

(a) whether the land requirement of the proposed works area and the barging facilities, particularly that on the seafront, was minimum; and whether off-site disposal of spoil had been considered;

(b) shared use of the proposed construction/barging facilities with the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) project should be considered;

(c) it was difficult for the Sub-committee to comment on the proposed works area in the absence of complete information on the land requirement and development programme of WKCD;

(d) an integrated planning of the entire area covering WKCD, the West Kowloon Terminus of the Express Rail Link (XRL) and the surrounding developments, including measures to enhance interface of various land uses, at-grade crossings, etc., was essential;

(e) whether MTRCL was prepared to compensate for the temporary use of the seafront for construction of XRL by carrying out beautification/enhancement of the harbourfront; and

(f) the powerpoint presentation materials should be distributed to Members for reference. [Post-meeting note: The powerpoint presentation materials were sent to Members on 24 March 2009.]

6.3 In response, the Project Team explained the following points:

(a) MTRCL was not in a position to explain the overall planning of the whole West Kowloon area as it was only entrusted the design and construction of the Hong Kong Section of XRL;

(b) unlike general building works, the excavation works of XRL would generate an enormous amount of spoil (about 4.83 million m3). The existing road network in the area was unable to accommodate the additional traffic, and hence marine transport should be relied upon for onward disposal of the spoil;

(c) the proposed works area in Annex 3 of the Paper was indicative only. As soon as the excavation works were completed, some barging facilities along the seawall could be removed. More land could be released when the

WKCD project commenced; and

(d) MTRCL would make every effort to enhance the temporary work sites. Subject to availability of funding from the Government, MTRCL could consider implementing enhancement proposals for other waterfront sites, where possible.

6.4 Members considered that the Sub-committee should be briefed on the overall planning and programme of the WKCD development, including its interface with the surrounding land uses and developments. They requested DEVB to coordinate the matter.

6.5 Ms Alice Cheung said that Members’ concerns could be relayed to the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) and the WKCD Authority.

6.6 The Project Team supplemented as follows:

(a) a high-level coordination committee chaired by HAB, with members from relevant Government departments and MTRCL had been set up to oversee the XRL and WKCD projects;

(b) HyD had obtained HAB’s agreement on using the proposed works area until the commencement of the WKCD project; and

(c) Members’ concern on occupying a vast tract of waterfront as works area was understandable. However, there appeared to be no better alternative given that disposal of such a huge amount of spoil by land transport would add too much burden to the existing road network, which was already quite congested. Besides, roads works would be carried out during the construction of the West Kowloon Terminus.

6.7 The Chairman remarked that the role of the Sub-committee was to promote harbour-front enhancement. The Subcommittee had great concern on the size of the proposed works area along the seafront. Without a comprehensive picture on the future development and implementation programme of the WKCD including its interface with the surrounding developments, the Sub-committee, instead of lending support, could only take note of the proposed works area.

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