A new rail link connecting Kam Tin in Yuen Long with Kowloon Tong was among six major infrastructure projects confirmed by Chief Executive John Lee in his first Policy Address on Wednesday. The new Central Rail Link is designed to alleviate pressure on the existing Tuen Ma Line – the city’s longest – and will help link areas in the Northern Metropolis development region with Kwai Chung and central Kowloon.

East Rail Line. Photo: MTR, via Facebook.

The new railway will serve as an extension of the Northern Link rail project, which is expected to complete construction in 2027. It will connect the East Rail Line with the Tuen Ma Line via the new development areas in the Northern Metropolis plan such as Kwu Tun and San Tin.

Government sources told HKFP on Tuesday that the new link may only have a few stops, and that Kowloon Tong was chosen as it was an interchange station.

Hong Kong’s six new infrastructure projects – click to view

1. Northern Metropolis Highway

To facilitate east-west connectivity in the New Territories North between Tin Shui Wai in the West, and Kwu Tung North in the east, via San Tin and expand transport capacity in the Northern Metropolis.

2. Shatin Bypass

A north-south new trunk road connecting Tai Po and Kowloon West will give residents of the New Territories East a faster route to urban areas and relieve traffic pressure on the Tolo Highway.

3. TKO-Yau Tong Tunnel

Construction of a third road tunnel at Tseung Kwan O will synchronise with the future development of Tseung Kwan O’s Area 137 and improve its external connections.

4. Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Rail Link

To connect Hung Shui Kiu with Qianhai in China to facilitate travel between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and promote connectivity and integrated development between Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.

5. Central Rail Link

The construction of Hong Kong’s 12th railway line will connect Kam Tin in Yuen Long with Kowloon Tong via Kwai Chung, alleviating pressure on the carry capacity of the Tuen Ma Line.

6. Tseung Kwan O Line Southern Extension

An extension of the Tseung Kwan O Line southwards to the new Tseung Kwan O Area 137, which will enhance the transport facilities in the area.

The planned Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Rail Link, which will run between Hung Shui Kiu – also within the Northern Metropolis – with Qianhai across the border in the mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen, was also mentioned by Lee.

The rail link was proposed by Lee’s predecessor, Carrie Lam, in the final Policy Address of her term last October, as an infrastructure project that would provide the backbone for the Northern Metropolis. “In order to create land for development and in order to ensure that there will be an easier flow of people and goods, you need good transport connectivity,” Lam said.

Chief Executive John Lee delivers the 2022 Policy Address on October 19, 2022. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Government sources told HKFP that a study of the project’s purpose, strategic value and carrying capacity will be completed this year, and conclusions may be included in the blueprint. A second study, beginning early next year, will explore the route, facilities, financial arrangement and border arrangements. Sources say costs will be shared with the mainland, and a tendering process may take place, rather than the project being handed to the MTR Corporation.

New Territories connections

Lee also announced an extension of the Tseung Kwan O Line southwards to Tseung Kwan O’s Area 137 – a site of approximately 80 hectares that the Development Bureau has identified as having potential for large-scale development.

There is not estimated timetable or budget set as yet, government sources told HKFP.

The government is also planning to construct roads to improve the connectivity in the northern New Territories, as well as between Tai Po and Kowloon West.

An aerial view of Tai Po. Photo: Wikicommons.

“The projects will bring about a highly interconnected and accessible road network and rail system, and vigorously drive and support future development of Hong Kong,” the chief executive told legislators.

Aside from railways, Lee said Hong Kong will construct a Northern Metropolis Highway to link up Tin Shui Wai and Kwu Tong North via San Tin as well. A north-south trunk road – the Shatin Bypass – will connect Tai Po and Kowloon West and relieve pressure on the Tolo Highway.

Lee added that a road tunnel linking Tseung Kwan O and Yau Tong would improve the connectivity of the Tseung Kwan O Area 137. The project commenced construction in 2016 and is scheduled to be complete in this year.

Public consultations on all six projects will begin later this year, government sources told HKFP.

Transport scheme extended

Lee also announced on Tuesday that the current Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme will be extended for another six months.

“From 1 November 2022 to 30 April 2023, the Government will continue to provide commuters with a subsidy amounting to one-third of their monthly public transport expenses in excess of HK$200, subject to a maximum of HK$500,” he said.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.