Stage II Public Engagement of the Railway Development Strategy (May 2013)
Stage II Public Engagement of the Railway Development Strategy “Our Future Railway” -
Comments of the Public Affairs Committee of the Hong Kong Institute of Planners
General comments :
1. Whilst it is acknowledged that the Study seeks to “cover more areas and provide railway service to more people”, and to “connect major infrastructures and new development areas to enhance their accessibility”, the public engagement should not be made without a solid and up to date urban planning context. The rail proposals however appear to be in lack of reference to the demographic changes revealed under the Census of 2011 and the Government’s many new and on-going housing initiatives since last year, which could result in different patterns and quantum of population growth and distribution of employment opportunities. These may in turn affect the justifications, locations and timing for the various rail alignment and stations.
2. Whilst it is not entirely within the remit my work of urban planning, there is concern about the lack of information about the fare structure and relative construction costs of these rail proposals for these would affect the decisions to be made at a strategic level on which proposal and whether amendment or modification would be needed.
3. At a local level, there generally appear to be lack of details about the landscape, visual and local environmental impacts of various sections, stations, ventilation buildings and other associated structures. These would affect how well the proposals might gain the support from the local community. Without such information, it is difficult even for the professionals to offer a lot of meaningful comments. The proposals are mainly shown as line drawings – without actual relationship to the actual streets and places and how interchanges would be made with other modes of transport. Diagrammatic drawings at such scale cannot fulfill the purpose of public engagement on local level matters.
4. Whilst Government is keen in promoting the energizing of Kowloon East comprising the “CBD-2” at Kwun Tong and the business area of Kowloon Bay, the present proposals have entirely omitted the need to connect Kowloon East with the network by a rapid mass transport link.
Specific Comments :
5. The following illustrate that the above concerns are actually found with respect to these specific proposals –
(a) North Island Line – It is difficult to visualized the advantages of the proposed split into a “Swap” scheme. No information is given as to whether the capacity and interchanging facilities of the North Island Line stations would be much better than that of the stations along the existing Island Line or not. No alternatives are given to any possibility of providing rapid (non-stopping) services along certain stretches of the Island Line or the Northern Island Line. Thus the advantages of bringing the passengers from the Tung Chung Line all the way to HK Island east without interchanging is perhaps only theoretical and unconvincing. It only appears to show that the capacity of Admiralty is limited as it is the main gateway for cross harbor flow even after the implementation of these various proposals, and the limitation f the Shatin Central Line stopping at Admiralty without going directly to Central. It would be more convincing if the through train service (all the way along the North Island Line to Chai Wan) is the rail that brings people from NWNT, via west side of Kowloon to HK Island instead of a rail that brings people from Tung Chung, since NWNT is where the majority of future population and activities are concentrated, not from Lantau.
(b) Siu Sai Wan Line – Several options are suggested, but as mentioned above, no illustrative materials are provided, and thus the visual and environmental impacts are not known. Besides, the time and costs of any alternatives of feeder buses, GMBs, etc. are not provided. It is difficult for the consultees to express any particular preference
(c) South Island Line (West) – It appears preferable to have a complete line from Kennedy Town to Wong Chuk Hang, instead of breaking into two sections. As the report also points out that some section near Pokfulam might be built on viaduct and could cause visual impacts, it is to be expected that there would be strong objections. All is well that these concerns are brought up at this stage. However, no meaningful result could be achieved from consultation because the decision in future still has to rely on a lot more facts, figures and evaluation instead of the present qualitative comments.
(d) Tune Mun South Extension –The “Major Regional Railway Corridors” proposed in Stage 1 Study have not been firmed up such as the HK Shenzhen Western Express Line Airport Rail Link and a Domestic Spur Line from Tune Mun to Tung Chung are still shown as diagrammatic concepts. It is only meaningful and supported if the proposed Tune Mun South Extension is connected to such regional network connecting Tuen Mun and the NWNT with Lantau and the airport. Otherwise, it does not appear cost effective to provide this Tuen Mun South Extension where feeders could always be provided easily at relatively lower costs and without great visual impacts. Again it shows that decisions on local proposals cannot be made meaningfully without the regional and strategic context.
(e) Hung Shui Kiu station – Hung Shui Kiu development it self should be subject to a major review in view of the rapid developments in Shenzhen, in particular Qianhai, and even more locally, the Lok ma Chau Spur development could affect the future population and employment patterns in the NWNT as a whole. In any case, the notion of reserving a station at Hung Shui Kiu can be accepted for a start, but not the details. There are no details any way. The discussion in the report about concerns of travel time to the urban area might also be different because it has not taken into account future possible travel in the other direction, to and from Shenzhen.
(f) Tung Chung West Extension – The report says rightly that “the actual alignment needs to be coordinated with the land planning of Tung Chung West and actual development of the community”. Along the Tung Chung Line actually consideration should be given to other possible stations and opportunities at Siu Ho Wan or Tung Chung East. It is disappointing that the report only included a sentence at the very end without any elaboration.
6. On the whole, this public engagement is found to lack in land use planning context at a strategic level and lacks in detail at a local level.
20 May 2013