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From the Vault-Face-off: should the Hong Kong-Guangzhou high speed rail link project be suspended?

Published: 19 Apr, 2016, Face-off column, YP, South China Morning Post

Helen Wong, 15, Dallam School, Britain

The Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Guangzhou rail link has been delayed by more than two years. It is forecast that the initial budget of HK$65 billion that had been set aside for the project will dry up by June. So the government needs an additional HK$19.6 billion to complete the railway. Otherwise, the project might be scrapped.

It’s not wise to provide this kind of money simply to avoid delays. The initial budget was allocated despite huge controversy, and we certainly do not want to repeat the same mistakes. Putting the brakes on the high-speed rail link will give us more time to carefully consider the project, and allow lawmakers to debate the funding proposal before it is put to a vote. The rail link was supposed to be completed by 2015, but the completion date has been extended at least twice. The government has blamed unfavourable ground and weather conditions, as well as inflation, all of which are ridiculous excuses for insufficient research into the project. It is a severe blow to Hong Kong’s reputation. As a result of the repeated delays, the construction cost has swollen to more than HK$85 billion. As things stand, the project will keep getting delayed and more funds will be required to finish it. This means that taxpayers will become a “cash machine” for the government as it tries to raise the funds. Of course, halting the construction is not an easy decision but continuing the project without careful consideration is just throwing money into the sea. Before approving additional funds, it is vital to rethink whether this will be worthwhile. This railway project is too big to fail, and cannot be postponed indefinitely. The MTR and the government need to shoulder responsibility for their poor management and lack of supervision, causing budget overruns and delays. A temporary halt to the construction, although undesirable, seems necessary so as to allow the authorities to take all factors into account and ensure a better rail service for all.

Originally published:


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