KOWLOON-CANTON Railway Corp announced on March 2 that it had awarded five civil engineering design contracts for the WestRail link between Kowloon and Tuen Mun. These will take the design of WestRail through to the start of construction by the end of this year.

Maunsell Consultants Asia will design two stations and the running lines in Tuen Mun for HK$172m. Ove Arup & Partners has been selected for the HK$263m design of the Yuen Long section with three stations. Atkins China will design the Tsuen Wan West reclamation, with one station and tunnels, for HK$218m, whilst Hyder Consulting will get HK$232m for design of two stations and running tunnels on the Sham Shui Po section in West Kowloon. Design of the depot complex and Kam Tin station will be undertaken by Parsons Brinckerhoff (Asia) Ltd for HK$128m.

The remaining design work will be done as part of design and build contracts for the E&M works and the two major tunnels, which are due to be awarded after the formal go-ahead. Tendering has already started for the two tunnel contracts and the rolling stock package.

In February Hong Kong’s Provisional Legislative Council began debating the WestRail funding package, set out in the draft Project Agreement endorsed by the Executive Council earlier this year. This envisages a government equity injection of HK$29bn; KCRC will contribute HK$10·1bn and borrow HK$24·9bn. KCRC will be granted property development rights along the route, but any net profits must be returned to the government. Even so, the railway is expected to achieve a 9% rate of return.

The Provisional Legislature must also approve by mid-1998 the KCRC (Amendment) Bill empowering the corporation to build and operate new railways. This will clear the way for the Executive Council to authorise the project in September. o