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回應政府對專家組方案之質疑

Responses to Government’s Assessment of the Integrated Option

Government Studies

Government considered and rejected at terminus for the Express Rail Link at Kam Sheung Road. Did they ever consider a station on the west side of West Rail or was their investigation confined to a station on the east side of West Rail?

Did Government ever consider providing a spur from the Airport Line to Kam Sheng Road thus enabling an express service to Hong Kong Island and to Chek Lap Kok?

The answer given informally is No to both questions, hence does Government not consider that their studies were too limited and they did not investigate all of the viable options?

Have Government undertaken any simulation to assess the Express Rail Link terminating at Kam Sheung Road WITH the Hong Kong Island Express Link?

Location of the Terminus

Government has stated that they wanted a City Centre location for the terminus for the Express rail Link and they have selected West Kowloon. Do Government consider West Kowloon to be “City Centre” and the “Heart of Hong Kong”?

If so why do their studies show that 95% of all travellers need to take a further means of transport to reach their final destination?  Does not this confirm that West Kowloon is not at the City Centre, nor is the Heart of Hong Kong?

Is not the overall journey time to the final destination much more important that a quick journey to the station and then a slow final journey to the final destination?

Has Government considered the overall journey time in their assessments or have they been only concentrating on the train journey time to arrival at the station platform?

Capacity on the Airport Railway Line

Government has suggested that there is a lack of capacity on the Airport Railway to carry the Hong Kong Island Express service.

Have they appreciated that on Lantau there are only two tracks to carry both the Airport Express Line and the Tung Chung Lane, whereas between Tsing Yi and Kowloon the Airport Express Line and the Tung Chung Line have their own tracks, thus providing more capacity?  While some of that spare capacity on the Tung Chung Line is used by the service between Hong Kong and Tsing Yi, there are no such additional trains on the Airport Express Line and it is that spare capacity which enables the Hong Kong Island Express service to operate within the overall capacity of the system.

Perceived Technical Problems

Government have stated that there are “several obvious technical problems” with the alternative scheme.  What are these as the only technical problem raised by Government is a perceived lack of capacity on the Airport Railway?  We have clarified that there is adequate capacity on the Airport Railway and the Government Engineers were not aware of how the capacity on this line was determined.

Costs

Government stated that the estimated cost for the Alternative Scheme at $25Bn was a “Grave Under Estimate”.  Meanwhile their own estimates have risen first to $39.5Bn and now to $53.7Bn with an extra $11.5Bn for roadworks.

Given that the Alternative scheme only has half the length of tunnel, and that the above ground terminus is significantly cheaper than the deep underground West Kowloon Station, does not the Government concede that an estimated cost of about half that of the Government’s scheme seems reasonable?

[Other matters to appreciate are the reduced resumption and hence costs, the deletion of the underground rescue centre and a simpler depot – these offset the cost of the Rambler Channel Crossing].

Programme for Construction

Government has stated that the start of construction on the project would be delayed by three years by the implementation of the alternative scheme. While such a delay is not agreed, has Government appreciated that the time for construction for the alternative scheme is significantly less than for their scheme and with a far lower risk of programme overrun?  Has Government appreciated that, as a result, there would be no delay in the opening date, and the cost would be significantly less.

Government has accused the Alternative Scheme adopting a shared corridor, a scheme which was rejected by Government.

Has Government appreciated that the Alternative Scheme does not adopt a shared corridor for the Express Rail Link? It runs in its own corridor to a Terminus at Kam Sheung Road with a depot to the south.

Has Government appreciated that the Crossing of the Rambler Channel need not be as high as that of the Ting Kau Bridge as the level of that bridge was determined by the level of the Tsing Ma Bridge, Tuen Mun Road and the approaches to the Tai lam Tunnel?

The level of the Rambler Channel Bridge will be governed by the height of shipping required to pass under, which is a lesser height than for the Tsing Ma Bridge.

Has Government appreciated that no shipyards on Tsing Yi will be affected and that the Yau Kom Tsai Water Treatment Plant will not be affected either as the crossing about one kilometre to the west?

Does Government appreciate that, with the crossing to the west of Approach Beach, the gradient between Tsing Yi station and the rambler Channel Crossing will be less than 2%.

Operations

Can Government clarify why the Terminus at West Kowloon has 9 tracks for Long-haul trains and 6 for Short-haul services?

Are Long-haul trains to be stabled and serviced within the station as opposed to be being moved to a separate depot / area as is the standard practice for operating Long-haul trains?

How many additional platforms does this require and what is the incremental cost of their provision in this deep underground station?

Would Government agree that these inefficient operations are a result of locating the station at West Kowloon as oppose to another location where the trains can be serviced away from the station?

Response to Government’s so called 6 Deadly Sins

     “The group’s idea is very preliminary without any supporting feasibility study.  It is based on connecting a small section of the cross-boundary express rail to the domestic rail network.  This fails to meet the fundamental concept and standard of the express rail," he said.

The scheme gives the majority of passengers a faster overall journey time than by locating the Terminus at West Kowloon thus it enhances the fundamental concept and standards of express rail. The scheme has supporting data but Government seems unwilling to consider it.

     Some fundamental problems of the counter-proposal include the following:

1)   Locating the terminus at the northwestern part of the New Territories means that commuters have to switch for the domestic rail link before they can reach the city centre.  The failure to provide the convenience of direct connection between city centres will greatly reduce the attractiveness of the project.

Passengers arriving at West Kowloon will have to switch to other means of transport to reach their final destinations. Government’s own estimates give 50% using the domestic rail service to continue.  Those to Hong Kong Island and the Airport will have an inconvenient interchange. Many continuing by road will be subject to road congestion

By locating the terminus at Kam Sheung Road AND providing a direct link to Hong Kong Island via a spur line off the Airport Railway will give many more people better access to and from the Express Rail Link and thus enhance its attractiveness.

2)   Shared use of existing rail tracks of the Tung Chung Line and Airport Express Rail to provide transfer for cross-boundary passengers will seriously undermine the capacity of these two links to meet future growth in passenger demand resulting from the development of the airport and the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, to the detriment of the overall development of the rail network.

This comment by Government continues their lack of understanding of the capacity issues of the Tung Chung Line and the Airport Express Rail as demonstrated at the one meeting held to discuss the proposals for the Alternative. As explained as the meeting, the proposal still allows the full use of the capacity to serve the Airport and the Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge as that capacity is limited by the capacity restraints imposed by the two tracks across the Tsing Ma Bridge. The proposal makes use of some of the spare capacity between Tsing Yi and Kowloon, where there are four tracks for the Tung Chung Line and the Airport Express Rail.  The scheduling of all the services has also been addressed to confirm the feasibility of the proposals.

3)   About 500 households will be affected by resumption or clearance if the terminus and related facilities are to be located at Kam Sheung Road, more than three times the existing number of Choi Yuen Tsuen households affected by the Government’s proposal.

It would appear that the 500 households are the estimate for the earlier Government schemes for a station at Kam Sheung Road. As explained to Government the scheme is very different and locates the terminus on the west side of West Rail and, as a result, the number of households affected by the scheme is about 50.

4)   There is a grave under-estimation of the construction cost in the absence of concrete data to back up the counter-proposal’s estimate and design.

Government cost for the railway related works is now $53.7Bn for a railway with 25 km of tunnels and a large deep underground station in West Kowloon. The alternative scheme has about half the length of tunnel and only one, very much simpler and cheaper, above ground station and hence our costs are consistent and reasonable.

5)   There is a lack of feasibility studies of the most basic type in the face of several obvious technical problems.

Government has not enabled the necessary dialogue for them to appreciate that the feasibility of the scheme has been proved. Nor have Government been able to identify any technical problems which would affect the scheme’s feasibility.

6)   The project will be delayed for at least three years, the time of resolving the technical problems not included, since all planning procedures have to start afresh.

Construction of our scheme will be much quicker than that for Government’s scheme since the scope of works is less and construction can commence on several work fronts at the same time.  Delay to the start of construction will be compensated by the shorter construction time.

     The spokesman said that the Government’s proposal for the Hong Kong section of the XRL project was the result of years of discussion and study by the Administration in conjunction with the Legislative Council and professionals, adding that it had obtained the general support of the community and was already at the final planning stage.

Government’s study only considered one location for a station at Kam Sheung Road which is different from that now proposed.  Government did not consider a spur off the Airport Railway to provide a fast service to the “heart” of Hong Kong Island. Government’s studies were thus deficient. As there has not been any public consultation on the project it is not possible for Government to claim general support for their scheme.  The escalating cost has undermined support for the scheme and thus it is only appropriate that cheaper alternatives are considered. The scheme proposed performs better that Government’s scheme for about half the cost.

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