Hong Kong Section of High Speed rail delayed two years to 2017

The South China Morning Post reports there is a two-year delay in the completion of the HK$67 billion high-speed railway connecting Hong Kong with Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Zheng Tianxiang, a provincial policy adviser involved in several infrastructure projects – said the delay would “definitely affect” the pace of the Pearl River Delta’s integration.

A plan to streamline travel time to no more than an hour between each of the economically powerful delta region’s cities is at the centre of the Guangdong government’s development blueprint. Local authorities believe this will create capital and prompt a flow of talent to help the region upgrade its economy.

“For this to happen, all sections of the key infrastructure projects must be completed and connected synchronously. If one part gets delayed, the whole plan will be affected,” Zheng said.

Zheng said the delay would affect the profitability of the rest of the rail link. The section between Guangzhou and Shenzhen is already open but ridership is low because most potential customers want to come to Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen.

The MTR Corporation disclosed the delay on Tuesday, citing the breakdown of a tunnelling machine at Yuen Long as the main problem. It means construction, which started in 2010, will not be finished until 2016, with services starting in 2017. When announced, the project was to be finished next year.

MTR officials have said additional costs due to the delay would be covered by a HK$4.4 billion contingency fund.

The 26-kilometre Hong Kong underground link was originally scheduled to open next year. Now it looks like it won’t happen until at least 2017.

Officials like MTR network projects director Chew Tai-chong have blamed the weather and elements like geological factors for causing the delay.

He said heavy rain last month flooded a construction site and seriously damaged a tunnel boring machine. He also said geological conditions turned out to be more complicated than anticipated.

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