The MTR is coming to Sai Kung, a railway expert told Friends of Sai Kung at their recent meeting. He predicted the Ma On Shan line now ending at Wu Kai Sha will be extended through the hill. The terminus will be at Sha Kok Mei.
The expert who we will call Mike (not his real name) is close to the MTR Corporation but not a staff member. Mike stood before FSK members to tell them why he believes mass transit extension to Sai Kung is inevitable.
“The MTR is at the early stages of looking at the business case for doing this,” he said. All of the corporation’s lines are working close to capacity except the Ma On Shan one. “It drags their performance figures down.”
At Wu Kai Sha the structure for the rail line is extended for some distance beyond the station, ready for renewed construction. “It is blindingly simple from an engineering point of view,” Mike said, for the new rail line to be built curving round flat land then turned up a valley and into a 3 to 5km tunnel through the hill to Sha Kok Mei. The terminus is expected to be on unoccupied land between Jade Villa and the north of Sha Kok Mei. A transport interchange will be built next to the station with shuttle buses to town. In total the project will cost $6 to 9 billion.
Another factor influencing Government thinking in favour of an MTR line to Sai Kung is the Highways Department’s view that widening Sai Sha Road is almost impossible.
The Ma On Shan line was built to take traffic off the roads, but it didn’t work. Buses got the passengers. Now the MTR’s planners are figuring how to get them back.
Arnie, a member of Friends of Sai Kung, said, “It will be nice to be able to go downtown in half an hour, but what about the hordes coming the other way?” Mike said the hordes are going to come anyway and when they come it’s best to have them under control. That’s what a railway line will do. The crowds, 25,000 an hour at peak times, will be fed into town on shuttle buses from the terminus at Sha Kok Mei, ride sampans, eat and drink, shop and then be taken away again by the trains.
“They won’t be clogging the main roads in cars and buses,” Mike said. “Development is inevitable. It’s going to come, but you want it under control. The MTR is the way to do it.”