BUS OPERATORS and trade unions protested to the Legislative Council transport panel on May 28 about MTR Corp's plan to build two new lines serving the west and south of Hong Kong Island by 2010.

Citybus and New World First Bus claimed 3000 jobs would be lost if competing services were withdrawn. Professor Bill Barron of Hong Kong University argued that the rail projects would generate HK$40bn of economic benefits, but the legislators voted against asking the government to subsidise their construction.

The West Island Line would run around the west coast from an end-on junction with a planned extension of MTR's existing Island Line from Sheung Wan to Sai Ying Pun. It would serve the university, Kennedy Town and Cyberport before connecting with the South Island Line at Wong Chuk Hang. The SIL would start from Admiralty and run through Happy Valley before tunneling under the ridge that separates the South and North parts of the Island. After connecting with the WIL, it would terminate on a small island at South Horizons.

MTR puts the total cost of the WIL and SIL at HK$15bn, and is expecting the government to provide up to half of this amount. Up to now, MTR has paid for new lines by raising finance in world markets and repaying it from revenue.

  • Kowloon - Canton Railway Corp is hoping to secure approval of the Chief Executive in Council soon for construction of the Kowloon Southern Link, which was gazetted under the Railways Ordinance on March 26. This HK$8·3bn project will extend West Rail from the present terminus at Nam Cheong through West Kowloon to East Tsim Sha Tsui, where it will connect end-on with the East Rail extension from Hung Hom due to open later this year.