8 July 2000
Gazetted Spur Line alignment - the best possible option
A KCRC spokesman said the gazetted alignment of Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, urgently needed to relieve overcrowding at Lo Wu, is the best possible option to achieve a balance between minimizing the impact on people and wildlife.
The spokesman said having taken into account public comments, the Corporation has recently revisited all alternative routes and found that these options are not viable because they would create greater impacts on local communities.
Moving the alignment northwards will bring the Spur Line closer to Ho Sheung Heung, affecting residents there, ancestral graves and the Fung Shui hill behind the village. It will involve the realignment of a section of East Rail tracks adjoining Shek Wu Hui Sewage Treatment Works and Sheung Shui Slaughter House.The works will require the reprovisioning of the delivery siding of the slaughter house and two very large sewer inlet pipelines of the treatment works.This will lead to closure of the two facilities for three to six months.
As existing East Rail runs very close to Long Valley, it is impossible for the Spur Line to tunnel through the valley because due to the gradient restriction, a train would have cleared the valley by the time the descent has reached a sufficient tunnel depth.
Routing the railway southwards will move the alignment closer to the villages of Tsung Pak Long and Yin Kong, causing more disruptions to people there in a manner similar to Ho Sheung Heung.It will involve the reconstruction of Po Shek Wu Road Bridge and the surrounding road system to provide the necessary height clearance for Lok Ma Chau trains to cross over existing East Rail tracks.This will cause unacceptable disruption to the busy road traffic to Man Kam To.
The option to move the branch-off point south of Sheung Shui Station will lead to longer journey time for one million population in the Northwest New Territories travelling to and from Lok Ma Chau because they will not be able to board trains in Sheung Shui.Furthermore, bifurcation south of Sheung Shui will lead to fewer trains running to Lo Wu, aggravating the peak hour congestion at Sheung Shui Station.
The spokesman said, "The gazetted alignment avoids the above negative impacts.
"We fully recognize the ecological value of Long Valley and as a responsible railway operator, the Corporation will implement a series of measures to minimize the impact on the valley.These will include reprovisioning of wetlands both on-site and off-site, using pre-casting construction method and imposing strict restriction on contractors' activities.
The spokesman rebuked allegations that the gazetted alignment was chosen for cost-saving reasons and engineering convenience."Had this been the case, we would build the railway at grade and would not adopt an expensive noise attenuation system to make the Spur Line one of the quietest railways in the world," the spokesman said.