WKCDA board positive about West Kowloon Terminus of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link

wkcda photo1On 26 November 2009, the WKCDA Board received a detailed briefing by representatives of the Transport and Housing Bureau, Highways Department and Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited on the design scheme for the West Kowloon Terminus (WKT) of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) during the open session of the 7th Board meeting.

The XRL will link Hong Kong to the Pearl River Delta’s domestic, regional and national railway networks. It will shorten the journey time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou significantly from about 100 minutes to 48 minutes. According to the Highways Department, the design of the WKT will enable easy road and pedestrian access to the WKCD. Its design vision is to create a vibrant, low-carbon area in a green, “walkable” environment with pedestrians segregated from automobile traffic.

The Board recognises that convenient transport to and from the WKCD is crucial to its success. The WKCD should not be an isolated island. It should have a good transport network for people and vehicular flow. The Chairman of the Board, Mr Henry Tang said, ‘The Board considered that the location of the XRL WKT next to the WKCD could provide the WKCD with good transport infrastructure, facilitate visitors travelling between the WKCD and the Pearl River Delta and increase people flow in the WKCD. It helps to connect the WKCD with the Pearl River Delta, and to make WKCD a cultural gateway to the region.’

wkcda_photo2Mr Andrew Lam who reported the discussions of the Development Committee on the proposed design of the XRL Terminus pointed out that : “…..the WKCD needs to rely on the transport facilities provided within the area, including domestic transport facilities as well as connections outside of Hong Kong, to attract visitors. If these transport facilities are designed well, they would obviously benefit the development of the WKCD….”

Mr Edmond Chung (also Chairman of the Yau Tsim Mong (YTM) District Council) told the meeting that most of the members of the YTM District Council consider it appropriate for the WKT to be located next to the WKCD. In their view, the XRL would connect the express rail system in the Mainland which could bring a large number of visitors. Therefore, the XRL terminus should be located in a district already with good transport network, to facilitate connection with other parts of Hong Kong. Located between Kowloon Station and Austin Station, the WKT is at a strategic location to connect traffic with the rest of Hong Kong. WKCD would become a world class cultural district. It would attract different types of visitors from all over the world, including those from the Mainland.

One highlight of the current design scheme is a large ground-level plaza connecting the terminus with the WKCD as well as Kowloon and Austin stations. The current plan calls for almost 9,000 square metres of open green space in the plaza, which will facilitate pedestrian flow as well as allow for outdoor leisure and improvised activities. To strengthen the connectivity of the WKT and the WKCD, it is planned to link up the whole district with at-grade pedestrian zones, footbridges and pedestrian subways. Improvement will also be made to the existing pedestrian subway at the junction of Canton Road and Austin Road.

On the barging area required, Mr Henry Tang said, ‘the Highways Department should further review the number of barging points required with a view to reducing the length of the waterfront required for barging, and explore whether the location of the barging points could be shifted eastwards so as to minimize the impacts of the barging operation on possible temporary arts and cultural events to be organized at the WKCD area.

The relevant government departments and the WKCDA would maintain close liaison to ensure that the WKCD Phase 1 and XRL projects are well co-ordinated in terms of design and detailed implementation.