LCQ17: The Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - Following is a question by the Hon Chan Han-pan and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (May 17):
The Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) is expected to be commissioned in the third quarter of next year, and will be operated by the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) under a service concession approach. It has been reported earlier that the Government has not yet commenced discussions with MTRCL on the operation of XRL, and the management of MTRCL is worried that there may not be sufficient time for it to carry out the preparatory work for the commissioning of XRL (such as staff recruitment). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the time it plans to hold discussions with MTRCL on the operation of XRL; the terms of service concession, other than service concession payments, to be included in the contents of the discussions;
(2) whether it has assessed the time needed by MTRCL for preparing for the commissioning of XRL; if so, of the outcome; and
(3) whether it has formulated criteria for determining the XRL fees; if so, of the publication date of the criteria; whether such criteria involve the pegging of XRL fees to service concession payments?
The Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government and the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) are pressing ahead in full speed with the works and the pre-commissioning preparatory work of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) with a view to commissioning the Hong Kong section of XRL in the third quarter next year. The overall progress as at end-March this year is 90 per cent.
The reply to various parts of Hon Chan Han-pan's question is as follows:
(1) Since the Chief Executive in Council endorsed the Dedicated Corridor Option for constructing the Hong Kong section of XRL in April 2008, the Government has been taking forward the project on the basis that the MTRCL will be invited to operate the Hong Kong section of XRL under a service concession approach in future. The Government has openly expressed the above intention on various occasions and the MTRCL has been fully aware of it. Under a service concession approach, the Government provides the funding under the Public Works Programme for constructing the Hong Kong section of XRL and ultimately owns the railway. The MTRCL is entrusted by the Government to undertake the design, construction, testing and commissioning of the Hong Kong section of XRL and is subject to monitoring of the Highways Department for implementation of the project. Upon the completion of the project, the Government may vest or lease the Hong Kong section of XRL to the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) which is wholly owned by the SAR Government and then the KCRC may grant the operation of the Hong Kong section of XRL to the MTRCL under a service concession approach.
The arrangement of service concession agreement will include the period and payment of service concession, as well as the requirements for MTRCL to provide services according to prescribed standards and surrender the assets upon the end of the service concession, etc. The Government has already commenced discussions with the MTRCL on this basis and will announce the outcome in due course.
(2) The Government and MTRCL have been actively taking forward various pre-commissioning preparatory works. For instance, MTRCL's first batch of 31 high speed train drivers have completed training and assessment, and will participate in the cross-boundary dynamic tests of trains that will commence as scheduled in mid-2017. MTRCL will continue to carry out training and assessment of the remaining batches of high speed train drivers.
On the operation arrangements of the XRL, the Government and MTRCL, through numerous working groups with the Mainland high speed rail operator, are discussing and examining operational matters that need to be coordinated with the Mainland side, including arrangements for passenger services, train control and command, driver and technical personnel training and assessment, rolling stock and equipment maintenance and repair guidelines etc. The related work has been ongoing.
In addition, MTRCL is developing the branding strategy of the Hong Kong section of the XRL, and making preparations for tendering of service contracts, including cleaning, catering and security services in the West Kowloon Terminus. MTRCL will also employ and train staff in a timely manner for the trial operation and drills next year in preparation for commissioning of the Hong Kong section of the XRL in the third quarter next year.
(3) In 2009 and 2015, the Government reported to the Legislative Council its patronage forecasts for the Hong Kong section of the XRL, assuming that, to maintain the competitiveness of the Hong Kong section of the XRL, its fares should be comparable to the prevailing fares of the train service to Shenzhen boundary (i.e. train service to Lok Ma Chau on the East Rail Line) and through train services. However, the actual fares can only be finalised at the time of the commissioning of the Hong Kong section of the XRL. The Government is currently discussing with the Mainland railway operation authorities and the MTRCL the operational details of the future commissioning of the Hong Kong section of the XRL, including the specific criteria for determining the fares, and the relationship between fares and the terms of service concession. The Government will announce the outcome in due course.
Published on: 2017-05-17
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