ABSTRACT

Hong Kong is going to expand the coverage of its existing railway network by adding five more new railway lines, namely, West Island Line, South Island Line, Kwun Tong Line Extension, Shatin to Central Link and Express Rail Link in the coming decade. The first four lines are domestic lines whilst the last one is an inter-city express line linking Hong Kong to the high-speed railway network of mainland China. Being the only railway company in Hong Kong, the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRC) is responsible for delivering all the above five railway projects. As all the new railway lines including the stations will be constructed mostly underground to avoid the heavily built-up ground surface, the construction will inevitably involve a considerable amount of rock excavation. How the underground structures should be designed and how the excavation could be carried out in a cost-effective manner with due regard to the safety of the public and the structures nearby have become the main concerns for the MTRC. To address these concerns, the MTRC has improved its risk management system by adopting the best practices of the construction industry. However, a good understanding of the rock mass behavior is also considered to be vital and this will require the input from the rock engineering professionals.

1. MTR NETWORK IN HONG KONG

The mass transit railway system in Hong Kong is operated by MTR Corporation Ltd. which is a listed company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with about 76% of its shares owned by the Hong Kong SAR Government. The business now covers the operation of 9 railway lines including an airport link service and a light rail network; the development of large residential and commercial buildings as well as providing retail and property management services; the construction and future operation of domestic lines in major cities of mainland China such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen; and the provision of railway-related consultancies to overseas countries.

The MTR network in Hong Kong was developed in different phases. The MTR Initial System was conceived in a Mass Transport Study carried out in 1965–1967. The need for this system was later confirmed by further studies completed in 1970. Due to contractual and funding issues, the scale of the Initial System was reduced. This reduced system, which was subsequently named as the MTR Modified Initial System (MIS), was approved and work commenced in 1976. The first section of the MIS, running from Kwun Tong to Shek Kip Mei, opened in 1979 whilst the remaining section, running from Central to Shek Kip Mei, started operation in February 1980. Subsequent phases of the MTR development comprised the Tsuen Wan Extension in 1982, Island Line in 1986, Eastern Harbour Crossing Rail Link in 1989, Lantau Airport Railway in 1998, Quarry Bay Congestion Relief Works in 2001, Tseung Kwan O Extension in 2002, and the Disneyland Resort Line in 2005.

In December 2007 MTR Corporation Ltd. merged with KCRC, and acquired the operating rights for the previous KCR network.

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