ON DECEMBER 3 Hong Kong MTR Corp signed a formal agreement to build and operate Beijing metro Line 4, which is due to open in time for the 2008 Olympics.

MTRC is taking a 49% stake in the project, as will the state-owned Beijing Capital Group; the remaining 2% will be held by Beijing Infrastructure Investment. The consortium will finance and build the line in exchange for a 30-year operating concession.

Running from Ma Jia Lu in the south to Long Bei Cun in the northwestern Haidian district, Line 4 will be 29 km long and serve 24 stations. Total cost is put at 15·3bn yuan, of which the city government will contribute 10·7bn. The remainder will be provided by the concessionaires; two-thirds through bank loans and the rest as equity.

Two days earlier, MTRC signed a co-operation accord with Tianjin municipality to assist with developing the city's planned three-line metro network. MTRC is already helping with staff training for Tianjin's first line from Liuyuan to Shuanglin which is expected to reopen this year following a closure for reconstruction and extension costing 7bn yuan. The two new lines are expected to cost 10bn yuan each.

  • Following a series of minor technical problems leading to high-profile delays and service disruptions in Hong Kong, Deputy Operations Director Andrew McCusker announced in November that MTRC was launching a 20-point improvement programme valued at HK$2bn a year.