26 March 2002
KCRC to be engaged in rail construction for the next 10 years
The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) was set to be engaged in rail construction and commissioning for at least the next ten years, said KCRC Chief Executive Officer K Y Yeung at today’s Asia Pacific Rail Conference 2002.
Delivering the keynote address at the conference, Mr Yeung said West Rail, Phase I, was approximately 70% complete, including all tunnels, the viaduct structure and 97% of station structures.
"I am increasingly confident of opening West Rail for full revenue operations on or before the scheduled completion date of December 2003," he said.
KCRC had also begun construction of the Ma On Shan Rail and the Tsim Sha Tsui Extension, both being much needed extensions to the existing East Rail system. A third East Rail extension, the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, was expected to be completed before mid-2007.
Mr Yeung said two additional major new railway projects were now in the planning stages – the Kowloon Southern Link and the Sha Tin to Central Link.
Mr Yeung said when he first joined KCRC in 1996, the Corporation’s asset base was worth US$2.2 billion. At the end of last year, it had grown to US$10.6 billion.
"When the West Rail and East Rail Extensions are up and running, our total asset value will have grown nearly six-fold since I first joined the Corporation to US$12.8 billion," said Mr Yeung.
Apart from building new railways, Mr Yeung said KCRC was also cognisant of the need to improve the capacity, service and competitiveness of the existing East Rail.
Cross-boundary ridership had doubled in the past five years and tripled in the last ten. Although last year’s growth, for the first time in several years, dropped to single digits at 3.4%, the total number of cross boundary passengers carried reached 87 million, representing an average of 236,800 passenger trips a day.
"The Corporation alone has decided to spend some US$22.4 million in the next two years on upgrading the platforms and other facilities at Lo Wu to improve passenger flows and amenities," he said.
He noted East Rail had changed from a railway serving primarily longer distance travellers going into the Mainland into a major mass transit commuter railway. East Rail’s domestic service carried some 205 million passengers in the year 2001 or 562,500 passenger trips a day.
To keep East Rail modern, attractive and safe, various major improvements have been made in recent years. An Automatic Train Protection signalling system was commissioned in 1998. All 348 cars in East Rail’s fleet were also completely refurbished in 1999 and KCRC was adding new rolling stock.
He said East Rail’s carrying capacity has been increased by 38%, with 20 to 24 trains per hour per direction now operating at peak hours.
Mr Yeung said this investment and others of a similar nature had brought about enhanced productivity. At constant prices, the cost of carrying one passenger per kilometre on East Rail had declined from 46.8 cents in 1991 to 40.7 cents in 2001, a fall of over 13% in real terms.