Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTR) yesterday submitted its latest assessment report for the highly anticipated Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail, admitting that the expenditure will reach 85 billion HKD, exceeding its initial budget by 20 billion HKD .
The project was originally estimated to cost around 65 billion HKD when plans for the rail were conceived in 2010. Last year, MTR raised the budget to 71.52 billion HKD and pushed the completion date to late 2017. It turns out that cost of the project and the timeframe for its completion were greatly underestimated, and the MTR was required to submit an updated report in the 2nd quarter of this year.
The estimated completion date has now been moved to the third quarter of 2018, with six months of buffer. Meanwhile, the budget has been increased to 85.3 billion HKD, with 2.1 billion HKD needed as reserve expenditure.
Cheung Bing-leung, Head of Hong Kong’s Transport and Housing Bureau, said that the revisions are unacceptable and that taxpayers should not be the only ones paying for postponements.
“The Highways Department, along with audit consultants, will strictly review the assessment report. The government, I’d like to repeat, the government will not easily accept any revised completion date or increased budget.”
“The MTR has severely strayed away from the originally planned schedule and budget, and as a result, we will review MTR’s performance and see if it should be held accountable for the delay and the deficit,” said Cheung.
The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail is a high-speed railway linking Hong Kong with mainland China. The mainland section between Guangzhou and Shenzhen has been in operation since late 2011, while the yet-to-be-completed section connecting Hong Kong to Shenzhen, called the XRL, is… well, struggling, it seems.
By Crystal Lau
[Images via CRIEnglish.com and Apple Daily]