30 April 2003
KCRC records mixed results in patronage
 
The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) experienced mixed results in the patronage of its passenger transport services last year, according to the KCRC 2002 Annual Report tabled in the Legislative Council today.
On East Rail, domestic patronage dipped slightly by 0.5% in 2002 to a daily average of 559,900 passenger trips. This was offset by a rise in cross boundary patronage of 6.3% to a daily average of 251,600 passenger trips, making for a total combined increase of 1.5%.
A KCRC spokesman said, "There is increasing traffic between Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta and the growth rate of cross-boundary passengers taking road transport is higher than that of rail transport.
"With the Government’s policy to permit different modes of public transport to operate to the cross boundary control points where circumstances allow, competition in the cross boundary transport market will increase. The Corporation is trying to maintain competitiveness by way of spending $195 million to improve the facilities at Lo Wu Station and adopting a more robust marketing strategy."
For Intercity Passenger Services, the situation was more encouraging. Patronage of all intercity through trains was up 8% over the previous year and the Guangzhou-Kowloon Through Train set a record high of 8,654 passengers in one day in October.
Light Rail Division recorded mixed results in 2002, with the average daily patronage for its Light Rail services slipping 1.8% to 313,600 and that for feeder bus services growing 29.6% to 71,450.
Despite a fifth year of fare freezes and Hong Kong’s continuing economic downturn, transport revenue increased by 1.8% to $4,213 million last year. However, non-transport recurrent revenues, which were derived mainly from property rents, fell 6.2% to $617 million.
The spokesman said, "Despite reducing staff benefits, operating costs grew by 0.3% to $2,896 million, although as in the past years, this is to be expected of any organisation that is building as rapidly as we are. However, the Corporation will continue to seek economies that enable us to operate more efficiently and reduce costs further."
Overall, KCRC enjoyed another profitable year in 2002, with net profits going up by 9.3% to $2,661 million.
"The return on equity in 2002 was 4%, in line with the return in 2001. This was low in comparison with the return realised by other public utilities in Hong Kong," the spokesman added.
The Government as the sole shareholder of KCRC will receive a dividend of $620 million in respect of 2002. This will be paid towards the end of 2003 and will be the first dividend paid since 1996.