The government proposed seven railway projects in the "Railway Development Strategy 2014", none of which have yet been completed.
The Transport and Logistics Bureau submitted a document to the Legislative Council to explain the latest situation. The Tung Chung Line Extension, Tuen Mun South Extension, and Kwu Tung Station projects on the Northern Link Line are all expected to start within this year; the Hung Shui Kiu Station project will also start next year.
However, Ma Si-hang, the former chairman of the MTR, pointed out before resigning that the MTR should not build multiple railways at the same time, otherwise it will cause "indigestion"; Lin Weiqiang, chairman of the MTR Federation of Trade Unions, said that the project needs to "compete for manpower". Manpower makes the progress lag behind; and some processes need experienced MTR employees to be responsible. I am worried that multiple projects will start at the same time, which will make the shortage of people more serious, and even increase costs and project delays.
Zhang Xinyu, a member of Hong Kong's New Direction Legislative Council, believes that the scale of the current project is different from that of the high-speed rail and the Shatin to Central Link, but it is still a "small challenge" for the MTR.
MTR stated that it will ensure the smooth progress of various projects through the project management model, including strict project process and monitoring, as well as through the introduction of new technologies and techniques, and the recruitment and training of talents as needed.
Three rail projects to start this year
According to the latest documents submitted by the Transport Bureau and the Highways Department to the Legislative Council, the Tung Chung Line Extension, the Tuen Mun South Extension, and the Kwu Tung Station of the Northern Link are all expected to start construction within this year; in addition, the Hung Shui Kiu Station project will be gazetted this quarter and is expected to Construction to start in 2024.
That is, after the announcement of the "Railway Development Strategy 2014", it was almost 10 years before some projects started construction.
The four projects are expected to start construction within two years. However, before resigning from office, Ma Siheng warned that multiple railways should not be built at the same time.
He mentioned in 2019 that during his tenure, several railways were under construction at the same time, including the West Hong Kong Island Extension, South Hong Kong Island Line, Kwun Tong Extension, the Hong Kong Section of the High Speed Rail and the Shazhong Link. The date was delayed several times, and a construction scandal broke out at Hung Hom Station.
Ma described the situation as "indigestion" at the time, leading to overruns and delays.
Recently, the MTR trade union has frequently mentioned the problem of manpower loss. Regarding the simultaneous start of four railway projects, Lin Weiqiang said frankly that he was worried about overspending and delays again.
He said that the engineering sector needs to "scramble for manpower". The same situation happened many years ago. As a result, there was a shortage of workers for the construction of the high-speed rail, which caused the progress to lag behind.
He continued to point out that some processes require senior railway staff to be in charge, and starting multiple projects at the same time makes the shortage of staff more serious, worrying about cost increases and delays.
Zhang Xinyu believes that compared with the five projects in the past, the SCL and the high-speed rail were all large-scale projects at that time, and the scale of the projects to be implemented now is completely different. I believe it is only a "small challenge" and MTR can still handle it.
But he also pointed out that there will be more infrastructure projects in the future, such as the three railways and three roads to cooperate with the reclamation of artificial islands, and the situation will become more severe.
The MTR replied that it has been cooperating with the government to promote the Hong Kong railway development project. At present, the preparatory work for the Tung Chung Line Extension, Tuen Mun South Extension, and Kwu Tung Station has been carried out in an orderly manner, and the preparatory work for the Hung Shui Kiu Station is also in progress .
MTR continued to point out that it will ensure the smooth progress of various projects through the project management model, including strict project process and monitoring, as well as through the introduction of new technologies and technologies, and the recruitment and training of talents as needed.
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