Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link Hong Kong section
Route of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong XRL Hong Kong section
|Owner||Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region|
|Locale||Kowloon and New Territories, Hong Kong|
|Transit type||Passenger high-speed rail|
|Number of stations||1|
|Operation will start||2018|
|Operator(s)||MTR Corporation (Under discussion)|
|System length||26 km (16.16 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||50Hz 25,000V (AC)|
|Top speed||200 km/h (120 mph)|
The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link Hong Kong section (XRL HK section) is an under-construction high-speed railway connecting Kowloon with the high-speed rail network of China at Shenzhen. As its name suggests, it is part of the rail link between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province.
- 1 Current plan
- 2 Public consultation on affected regions
- 2.1 Overview
- 2.2 Yuen Long District
- 2.3 Yau Tsim Mong District (reclaiming land surface of Tai-Kok Tsui Section)
- 2.4 Kwai Tsing District
- 2.5 Sham Shui Po District
- 2.6 Tsuen Wan District
- 2.7 Tuen Mun District
- 2.8 Summary of controversy
- 3 Opposition to the project
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
In April 2007, the Executive Council assigned the task of planning and design of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) to the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL). Government projections indicate that the XRL will carry about 100,000 passengers daily in 2020 and 120,000 passengers in 2030, generating an economic benefit of HK$83 billion over the next 50 years in terms of travelling time saved. Construction costs were estimated at HK$39.5 billion (US$5 billion), giving an economic internal rate of return of about 9%. The government stated the objectives were to "reinforce Hong Kong's position as the transport hub in southern China and integrate Hong Kong into the country's rapidly growing express rail network", and promoting cultural tourism, it also argued that shortening the travelling time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou to just under 50 minutes—half the current journey time— would save "HK$83 billion over the next 50 years in terms of travelling time", and the creation of 5,000 jobs during construction, and 10,000 operational jobs.
The XRL HK Section will only serve the West Kowloon Terminus. Trains will run to Guangzhou South Station in the Shibi Township of the Panyu District in southern Guangzhou through three intermediate stations, namely, Futian, Longhua (Shenzhen North) and Humen. The expected travel time between Guangzhou South and West Kowloon stations is estimated to be 48 minutes, with a total distance of 142 kilometers.
Shenzhen North Station was open on 22 June 2011, and Futian Station is expected to open in 2014. Trains departed from Hong Kong may have destinations beyond Guangzhou, through the Wuguang High-Speed Railway and the Shiwu High-Speed Railway, or via Shenzhen North to Hangzhou and Shanghai through the Xiashen Railway, Huhangyong Railway, etc.
Under the current plan the total distance of the Hong Kong section is 26 kilometres, most of which through underground tunnels, the dedicated track will enable a top speed of 200 km/h; the expected travel time from Kowloon to Shenzhen's Futian Station is 14 minutes.
The construction cost in Hong Kong will be covered by the Hong Kong taxpayer (whereas the construction cost in the Mainland section will be covered by the Guangdong Provincial Government and PRC's Ministry of Railways).
Hoping to be able to start construction of the Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link (XRL) project before the end of 2009, the Executive Council approved the implementation on 20 October, paving the way for funding approval from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council.
Service between Guangzhou South and Shenzhen North stations started on 26 December 2011, the extension to Futian station, originally scheduled for 2012, has been delayed until on 30 December 2015 for Futian and the 3rd quarter of 2018 at the latest as planned for West Kowloon Terminus.
Public consultation on affected regions
Numerous regional public consultations were conducted on the affected areas since May 2008 upon the ExCo's decision to proceed with the planning of Hong Kong section's XRL. Seven relevant District Councils (Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Kwai Tsing, Yuen Long and Tuen Mun) and/or their subcommittees, the Heung Yee Kuk, and the relevant Rural Committees were consulted in the process, the purpose of the consultation was to inform and brief stakeholders involved in the projects and to see comments in fine-tuning the project arrangement. The main concerns raised in the consultation regarding the construction included such as resumption of land and underground strata, associated re-housing/resettlement and compensation arrangement, the necessity of the railway project, alignment selection, location of Hong Kong section of XRL terminus, selecting emergency rescue station (ERS) and stabling sidings locations (SSS), and the provision of an intermediate station and environmental impacts during construction and operation.
The construction plan
The Express Railway is an underground railway that runs deep in the ground. There are also some facilities being built on the ground level to support the system, including the emergency rescue station (ERS), stabling sidings (SSS) and ventilation buildings (VB), the ERS serves as a channel for a rescue team to enter the station in urgency and enable large-scale evacuation. The SSS is on the ground level where rolling stock of XRL is placed for cleaning and primary maintenance, it is planned that the ERS and the SSS would be placed together so that the facilities such as traffic connection and electricity can be shared.
The government selected Shek Kong of Yuen Long as the site for ERS and SSS because of its large piece of flat land with low profile, it also has a highway connection which allows rescue team to reach and people to evacuate by road traffic. It requires the clearance of 17 hectares of private land and 10 hectares of Government land at Shek Kong to construction ERS and SSS. Choi Yuen Tsuen (or Choi Yuen Village, CYT) located at Shek Kong was affected the most because the whole village has to be cleared for the construction.
Out of 8 ventilation buildings, 4 of them are built in Yuen Long, the ventilation buildings are located in Mai Po, Ngau Tam Mei, Tai Kong Po and Pat Heung. It takes 8 hectares of land in Yuen Long to build.
Before November 2008, the Transport Department has consulted relevant Districts Councils, Heung Yee Kuk and relevant committees. According to the Yuen Long District Council Paper in 2008, there was a brief to the district members in June 2008, which informed the choice of dedicated corridor option and the funding proposal, the clearance on Shek Kong was not mentioned.
In the district council meeting held on 23 October 2008, the site selection of Shek Kong for building ERS and SSS was introduced to the members, along with the plan of building four ventilation buildings in Yuen Long.
In November 2008, the scheme of the Express Rail was first gazetted to inform the general public, where consultation was opened to the public for 60 days, over 13,000 objections were received, most of them were from the CYT Concern Group, Legislative Councillors and district councilors. However, the numbers of accepted proposals were not announced and the government response was that the concluded objections would be considered by the Administration.
On 28 December 2008, the Highways Department attended a public forum at Choi Yuen Tsuen (CYT) to explain the background and details of the XRL project to the concerned residents. Yet the department still received objection letters from some of the CYT residents after the forum, from January to May 2009, the government met with the residents of CYT for multiple times to understand their concerns and to explain details of the XRL scheme to them.
There were several suggestions on the site selection of ERS and SSS after the consultation period. People proposed using the existing open spaces, car parks and abandoned building sites at Shek Kong in order to minimise the resumption of private land, the proposals were not considered feasible because they would cause more households being affected. Moreover, because the locations of ERS and SSS greatly affect the direction of the XRL, a change in their locations may result in a failure to connect the Hong Kong section of XRL to the mainland section; in addition, the proposals suggested involved increase in the travelling distance, which will require more ventilation to be built, leading to further disturbance to the public.
In March 2009, a Concern Group of Choi Yuen Tsuen (CYT) in Shek Kong lodged a complaint to the Complaints Division of the Legislative Council, expressing strong dissatisfaction with public consultation regarding the alignment and facilities of XRL and objecting to the land resumption and clearance of Choi Yuen Tsuen. They criticized that the public consultation only lasted for 2 months after the gazettal, and expressed that information provided to the affected residents was not enough. Therefore, despite the Choi Yuen Tsuen residents had put forward alternative proposals on the site selection of ERS and SSS, the proposals were considered infeasible due to such limitations, the concern group also pointed out that while the budget of building XRL is more than the double of the budget of the Central Kowloon Route and the Kwun Tong Town Centre Redevelopment Project, the non-statutory consultation of the two latter projects lasted for 2 years and 10 months respectively, whereas no consultations were conducted in the New Territories. The concern group found it was unfair to conduct consultation on some groups of interest, but the residents of CYT were ignored. Meeting with Pat Hueng Committee was held in October 2008, but the government was criticised for its tilted preference on the indigenous inhabitants.
The Transport Subcommittee of the Legislative Council received views from 47 deputations/individuals on the XRL project at its meeting on 14 May 2009. A number of these deputations were affected residents of Choi Yuen Tsuen. Having noted the residents' concern, members considered that the Administration should not push through the clearance plan for Choi Yuen Tsuen against the wishes of Choi Yuen Tsuen residents as they strongly wanted to preserve their homes and their present way of living, some members urged the Administration to explore making use of the Shek Kong Barracks as an alternative site for provision of ERS/SSS. Some members suggested that the Administration should allow flexibility in offering land compensation to the affected residents, and the option of land swap should be considered to enable residents to continue with their present way of living at another site in the New Territories, they also requested the Secretary for Transport and Housing to pay a visit to Choi Yuen Tsuen as soon as possible to listen to the views of the residents and address their concerns.
To response to the opinions, 3 public fora were held in July and August 2009, the government stated that the site selection of SSS and ERS was due to the operation of the railway, safety consideration, geographical reasons and the social impacts. The proposals suggested by the CYT Concern Group would cause clearance of a more extensive piece of land and would affect more households, the site selection by the government is estimated to affect 150 households in CYT while the proposals from the Concern Group would be affecting 220 households, causing more social impacts. Therefore, the proposals were not accepted.
Without further changes on the clearance plan on CYT, the government gazetted the details of compensation on 20 October 2009. Consultation centres were set up at the Pat Heung Committee and Shek Kong to allow residents to consult the Administration about the details, the compensation depends on the household nature and the residence period on the sites. Qualified households are able to apply the Special Ex-gratia Rehousing Package which offers HK$600,000 to HK$500,000 allowance for rehousing. All households are granted with the ex-gratia allowance ranging from HK$3,000 to HK$10,000. There were 7 issues of "Newsletter for Choi Yuen Tsuen Residents" and 6 public fora with CYT residents to listen their views and update them on the compensation and rehousing arrangements. However, the proposal of moving the village to a new land to conserve the village was not considered by the government because moving the village would bring negative impacts on development in the future.
By 28 February 2010, 230 households in CYT registered the compensation plan offered by the government, over 75% of the applicants were approved with the rehousing allowance. The government also held special sale of the surplus flats under Home Ownership Scheme for the affected households, in which 35 villagers purchased the units. 40 households were arranged to public rental housing or interim housing.
Villagers of CYT gradually moved out from the site in 2010.
Yau Tsim Mong District (reclaiming land surface of Tai-Kok Tsui Section)
On 26 June 2008 District Council received a debriefing from the government regarding the general direction and planning of XRL, as two tunnels of XRL Tai Kok Tsui section will pass through the region under land surface 30 meters, the surface land of 19 buildings will need to be reclaimed permanently due to construction. Communication process was made between the government and affected residents on October to November 2009, the MTR Corporation Limited had also distributed information and establish information centre on December 2012 to provide data, diagrams and legal message to residents. A community liaison group was set up including the Chairmen of the Property’s Owners Committees and other stakeholder with first meeting held in March.
During the District Council from 26 June, 28 August 2008, 26 February, 23 April, 25 June, 27 August, of 2009 which the district council has started to discuss the XRL construction in the district after the government initiate the design and planning of the XRL project on April 2008, from the above meetings, the issue of reclaiming land surface of Tai Kok Tsui section was not brought up in all of these meetings. On 22 October 2009, the scheme was authorized in legislative council.
On 25 February 2010, a timetable regarding reclaiming the land surface and subsequent arrangement of tunnel-drilling construction along Tai Kok Tsui section was issued and raised in the meeting with Yau Tsim Mong District Council, it was scheduled that, on March, 2010, the government report to the Property Owners’ Committee of each affected buildings regarding the impact assessment of construction. From February, 2010, onwards, inspection were said to be carried out with detailed arrangement made after consulting Property’s Owner Committees, as the tunnel-drilling construction would bring different degrees of influence to nearby residential buildings, the timetable suggests consistent inspection and setting up of monitoring appliance. Such measures were planned with conditions of consistently notifying residents inspection results and availability of compensation system if damages were identified. Professional sources to increase credibility of inspection was to be provided such as The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers.
In the Traffic and Transport Committee, from 2010 onwards, there was no discussion on the issue on documents.
Community liaison group
From March, 2010 onwards, 8 meetings were held within group over the Tai-Kok-Tsui Section with necessity of using the land surface over the 19 affected buildings most intensely discussed during the year of 2010-2011 with 6 meetings held over the two years.
During the community liaison group meetings, possibility of alternate routes which cause less distress to Tai Kok Tsui residents, including diverting the route to the Olympian City instead of residential buildings were raised by residents, district council members and Property Owners’ Committee, the alternate proposal was deemed infeasible by the then MTR Corporation Limited and maintained the original plan involving the 19 buildings.
Discussion items also include the possibility of construction work undermining the values for redevelopment in the region as it will be defined as Railway Protection with any future underground drainage and building works subject to approval of MTR Corporation Limited and legitimacy of using Railway Ordinance over the issue, the meetings also discuss concerns over the government’s claim of tunnel-drilling construction not posing adverse impact on building structure as residents from specific buildings, such as Ka Hing Building, displayed previous reports from Buildings Department that proves the building was in strong need of maintenance and questioned whether it was applicable for XRL construction project. Other items also include request for simplifying or setting up individual compensation system and second opinion from professional sources.
In response, the government and the MTR Corporation Limited had issued credential letter issued to residents promising the building structure of the affected buildings will not be affected by the construction. Professional consultation was provided to residents for surveying service.
On 29 September 2009, the then Legislative Council Member representing Kowloon West, James To-Kun Sun and District Council Member, Lam Ho Yeung, held a public forum for over 500 residents to participate and discuss over the issue.
Kwai Tsing District
By documents, the District Council was briefed by government representative on 7 October 2008, as the tunnels of XRL would need to pass through the 60–280 meters underground of Wonderland Villas, as ventilation shaft in Shek Kong are built on land surface, private lands needed to be acquired according to Railway Ordinance. Consultation and communication process was thus needed to be carried out between residents, government and MTR Corporation Limited. Throughout discussion progress, Highway Department, District Council, residents, Property’s Owners’ Committee and MTR Corporation Limited Limited are involved in various consultation occasion such as Community Liaison group and Briefing session to residents.
Representatives of Highway Department and government participate in the Kwai Tsing District Council meeting on 9 July 2009 items of discussion include moving the railway further from the area of Wonderland Villas, issues of land right, safety issue of buildings’ foundation and construction method; in particular, underground safety of Block 21 with railway built 200 meters underground. On 31 August 2009, Highway Department replied the motion of District Council that the railway route cannot be altered further from area of Wonderland Villas by letter.
Community liaison group
The first meeting of the community liaison group took place on 23 March 2010, from then onwards, 7 meetings were held for Kwai Tsing District. No meetings have taken place since 2012. Participants include representatives from Highway Department and Transport Department, District Council members, Home Affairs Department, property owners, chairperson of Property’ s Owners’ Committee of affected buildings and representatives From MTR Corporation Limited Limited.
According to the meeting minutes, during the series of meeting, residents raised concerns on resuming land will lead to decrease of redevelopment value for the region, this includes drop of land price in future. Residents questioned whether disparity of land price can be included in the Disturbance Payment as stated in Railway Ordinance, the issues of immediate compensation was discussed multiple times during meetings. Much residents requested that the retrieval of land right should result in immediate compensation from the government. Concerning the compensation induced due to damage of buildings from construction, Parties responsible for the inspection was also discussed as residents question inspection of damage after construction should be carried out by government instead of residents finding professional companies themselves. Whether influence on regional Feng Shui can be included in compensation was also raised.
In response to the format and duration of compensation, government representative and MTR Corporation Limited Limited restated that compensation for any damages induced by XRL construction on buildings is only available if residents conducted inspection with surveying companies and damage is proven. Any application for compensation will need to be submitted within a year after the construction. Disparity of land price is not included in the Disturbance Payment of Railway Ordinance.
Other discussion items include communication process as some elderly residents reflected that they did not have access to online information. Consistency between the map and floor plans from different websites was also discussed as residents observed that the location of tunnel close to Hutchison Estate were different in the Gazettal documents, Highway Department website and website of MTR Corporation Limited Limited. Other items also include submission of documents for compensation as some residents claimed that retrieving land leases from government department required financial cost.
In response, the MTR representatives had restated location for acquiring leaflet as physical copes for residents who lack internet access. MTR representatives had also clarified on the most updated version of map and floor plan should be the ones sent along with notification of resumping land.
Briefing to residents
Briefing to residents from both Hutchison Estate and Wonderland Villas was conducted by government and MTR Corporation Limited Limited in provided more information to them regarding resumption of land and detailed construction work. Briefing concerning Wonderland Villas was conducted on 24 July 2009 and 26 May 2010. Discussion items include design and limitation of railway route and construction method. Reason for not able to divert the route further from Wonderland Villas 30 meters was also explained in the briefing. Briefing concerning the Hutchison Estate discussed items such as tunnel designs and routes, building inspection and details of construction.
A Wonderland Vialls Estate Focus Group was set up on 2009 after the joint briefing by resident of Wonderland Villas Estate, the group mainly focuses in raising opposition voices representing residents of the estate. The opposition mainly pinpoints the safety issue induced from construction, compensation progress and consultation process, the Convener of the focus group was invited to Legislative Council on 20 September 2009. Points addressed include lack of consultation when government applies Railway Ordinacne 519, construction work complicates the estate foundation and decreased the redevelopment values, the group also filed complaints that the joint briefing on residents failed to address the compensation issue and that the inability for MTR Corporation Limited to alter the route 30 meters further was unreasonable as there were no other settlement nearby with similar practice conducted in Tai Kok Tsui. There was no publication of report on buildings structures, the focus group posed safety concerns over the drilling and explosion work to be conducted in the area.
Hence, in the Legislative Council meeting, the focus group requested government to have full financial subsidy for residents to hire professional surveying companies for full inspection of buildings and provide Environmental Impact Assessment. Publicizing reports of building structures and assessment on explosion work were also demanded.
In June 2008, the government briefed the Sham Shui Po District Council Members the XRL project, the brief covered the length and direction of the railway and members were invited to provide comments on the project.
In September 2008, there were more details of the XRL project to brief the Council Members. There was background on the project about the railway network in the mainland, the benefits were introduced, which the project would bring economic connection to with mainland, reduce the time of travelling in the delta region, create more job opportunities and achieve sustainable development via mass transit system. 3 kilometres of the underground railway section would go through the Sham Shui Po District. It is about 30 metres under the ground level. Land resumption is not required for the underground railway, the ventilation building would be located at the Sham Mong Road, next to the Nam Cheong Station Public Transport Interchange. 6 temporary construction sites would be located in sham Shui Po Districts to construct ventilation buildings and strengthen the existing structures.
In 2010, the construction began and there were concerns from the community as reflected in the meeting held on 9 February 2010. District Council Members and government representatives joined meeting, the Members reflected that residents and schools concerned about the noise and air pollution from the construction sites.
In response, from the paper of the Transport and Housing Affairs of the District Council dated 29 July 2010, MTR Corporation has held meetings with the schools to explain the construction work and organized a communication units to communicate with the Members. Temporary traffic arrangement was adopted due to the construction sites, including the narrowing down of some roads and alternation to the pedestrian pavements, some bus routes have to be changed. To compensate the inconvenience caused, MTR Corporation offered a station reducing MTR fee for the residents.
From the Paper for Circulation for Sham Shui Po District on 10 January 2011, the construction was altered to minimize the impact to the neighbourhoods, the paper also consulted the opinions from the District Council on the traffic arrangement of the construction.
In September 2008, there were details of the XRL project to brief the Council Members. There was background on the project about the railway network in the mainland, the benefits were introduced, which the project would bring economic connection to with mainland, reduce the time of travelling in the delta region, create more job opportunities and achieve sustainable development via mass transit system. The railway would pass through the district for 4.5 kilometres via Kwai Chung Road and Cheung Wing Road at 60 to 120 metres below the ground level, and direct towards Tai Mo Shan. The ventilation would be built at the Cheung Shan Bus Terminus. Total of 3 temporary construction sites are required.
Land inspection was carried out since 2008 and the MTR Corporation and the Transport Department would coordinate to offer traffic arrangement to minimize the impacts of traffic.
The representatives from the government and the MTR attended the District Council meeting on 31 March 2009 to introduce the progress of the project.
On 14 December 2009, the MTR Corporation held a briefing section to the Committees of the Cheung Shan Estate to explain the construction plan.
MTR set up the community communicating unit as a platform to communicate with the district, on 19 March 2010, the representatives from unit attended the resident meeting at the Cheung Shan Estate to illustrate the impacts of ventilation building to the residence and revised the design of the ventilation building according to the opinions of the residents. There would be more greening and improvement on the fences. Community facility, the leisure park, would be reconstructed next to the ventilation building. Members from the District Council were invited to visit the ventilation building at Yau Ma Tei to understand the design and operation of the building.
During construction, the unit of construction involving the Police, Transport Department, Highways Department and Home Affairs Department would coordinate to minimize the impacts on the traffic in the district.
By document, on 16 January 2009, the initial proposal of XRL project was introduced to District Council sub committees. Discussion items include transaction station, temporary Storage for Explosive Materials and environmental assessment, on 5 May 2009, the XRL project was officially introduced to the Tuen Mun District which the background and purpose of the project were briefed.
On 30 July 2009, the District Council meeting discussed the progress of the XRL project. Discussion items include managing opposition voices, temporary transportation arrangement, impact on fishery and water quality, noise management, heritage conservation, impact on views, waste management, air quality and management of explosive materials.
No land acquisition or land resumption was required for the XRL construction.
Community liaison group
Community liaison group meetings were carried out between Highway Department, District Council, MTR Corporation Limited Limited, Property’ s Owners’ Committee and village representatives for 5 times from 2010-2011. There were no meetings conducted since 2011.
On the first meeting on 17 March 2010, discussion items include the location of Barge Transfer Facility, the transportation arrangement, noise control and impact of recreational land, the residents were concerned about safety issues of storing construction-related explosive materials near residential area, road capacity for transportation cars and reallocation of flea market as construction land.
On 12 July 2010, discussion items include negotiation progress with Ma Wan fishermen in locating Barge Transfer Facility in Brothers Point. There were follow up regarding the relocation of flea market as the change in entrance location required help from the company, the altering of Tsing Fat street to fit with the transportation arrangement catering construction cars was also raised.
Follow-ups of these three issues continued to be raised in the subsequent meetings of 27 October 2010, 21 February 2011 and 27 July 2011.
Summary of controversy
Throughout the consultation process, the timeliness and applicability of Railway Ordinance were much questioned, the Railway Ordinance ensure that the land retrieved by government are permanently under the railway protection zone which any future drainage and underground construction would require the approval from MTR Corporation Limited Limited. It reduced the possibility of redevelopment in the future. Thus, much opposition from different districts were raised but no amendment on the ordinance was made.
The compensation policy was in questioned with the responsibility to hire professional inspector fell onto the residents. Absence of immediate compensation caused dissatisfaction among residents. There were also questions whether damages of buildings discovered after 1 yesr on construction can still be included in the compensation.
Multiple residents living in old buildings complained that the reports on buildings'structure were not made known to them which causes safety concern in carrying out a large-scale project nearby.
Discontinuous community liaison group meetings
Most of the community liaison group meetings decreased in frequency after 2012 and 2013.
Opposition to the project
On 29 November 2009, a demonstration of more than 1,000 people protesting against the construction of the Express Rail link gained the attention of the local media when a group of 100 people engaged in a sit-in protest in front of the government headquarters in Central, on 18 December 2009, when the funding application was debated in the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, a demonstration of an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 people was staged around the Legislative Council Building. The debate did not end at the time when the meeting was scheduled to be ended, and the funding application was not yet voted on. A major protest followed in January 2010.
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