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How will the project be funded?

Railway projects have two development approaches.

Under the "concession" approach, railway construction is funded by the Government under the Public Works Programme, and the railway company will operate the new railway through a service concession.

Under the "ownership" approach, the railway company will be responsible for the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the new railway and ultimately owns the railway. The railway company would bear all the commercial risks associated with the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the new railway.

On the basis of the "ownership" approach for funding the project, the MTR Corporation is currently discussing with the Government the financing arrangement for the Northern Link to bridge the funding gap for a financially viable proposal.

Is it value for money?

The construction cost of a railway project includes planning, design, environmental assessment, construction works, etc. When estimating the project cost, we will also consider the expenditure incurred due to the complexity and challenges unique to the project.

Take the Northern Link project as an example. The construction challenges include building the new Kwu Tung Station on the current operating East Rail Line; as well as the need to balance various factors such as engineering challenges, environmental protection and project planning. Nevertheless, we will strictly supervise and monitor works quality, and control expenditure and costs to ensure resources are used prudently during project delivery.

The Northern Link enhances connectivity between the east and west of the New Territories and saves travel time for the public. It also promotes the unleashing of development opportunities for lands in San Tin, Ngau Tam Mei and Au Tau, increasing housing supply and creating employment. These all create significant direct and indirect economic benefits.

Why construct Kwu Tung Station first?

The Northern Link connects Kwu Tung and Kam Sheung Road, with three new intermediate stations at San Tin, Ngau Tam Mei and Au Tau. Due to the wider geographical coverage and higher complexity, coupled with the need to consult various key stakeholders, it will take longer to commence construction.

We understand the public expectations for the project. As per our study, the Kwu Tung Station on the East Rail Line has more mature conditions to commence construction sooner than the Northern Link. This is because a portion of its tunnel structure has already been constructed, and its station areas were reserved during the construction of the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line of the East Rail Line. In view of this, construction works for Kwu Tung Station on the East Rail Line will be commenced first to facilitate provision of railway service to residents as soon as possible.

Looking forward?

Invited by the Government, the MTR Corporation is currently working on the planning and design of the Northern Link project.

We will closely follow the planning of future railway projects and provide our full support on the Government’s railway development strategy. We look forward to contributing to the long-term development of Hong Kong, leveraging our expertise in railway development and operations.

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