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Interesting arguments on Road versus Rail

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  • billt44hk
    Hong Kong is proposing to build what will be the worlds longest bridge across the Pearl River Estuary to connect it with Macau and Zhuhai in Southern China. I
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 17, 2003
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      Hong Kong is proposing to build what will be the worlds longest
      bridge across the Pearl River Estuary to connect it with Macau and
      Zhuhai in Southern China. I dont have population numbers to hand but
      due to the massive urban developments taken place in Southern China
      over the past twenty years this region is already a virtual
      megacity.The whole idea has been driven by the road-building lobby
      from the start.
      (sorry I cant just give the url because access to this newspapers
      online edition is by subscription) Hope its of some interest.

      Saturday, October 18, 2003
      Bridge does not need a rail link, says developer

      Executives from Hopewell Holdings and the KCRC (Kowloon-Canton
      Railway Corporation)clashed yesterday over whether a proposed bridge
      linking Hong Kong with Zhuhai and Macau should include a railway.
      At a conference panel meeting, Leo Leung Kwok-kei, executive
      director of toll-road builder and operator Hopewell Holdings,
      suggested a road by itself would be a more attractive option

      Noting environmental considerations, he said that while many people
      preferred an electric rail system because it could move many people
      in an environmentally friendly way, all forms of transport released
      some pollutants.

      Mr Leung also said there were also strict mechanisms in place to
      control the amount of car emissions.

      "Don't always think that rail is the best [when it comes to the
      environment]," he said. "There are many alternatives on
      environmental regulation for [regulators to consider]," he said.

      Mr Leung cited liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas as
      environmentally friendly fuel for cars.

      He also argued that roads were more economical if you took into
      account the number of passengers using buses and trains and compared
      it with their respective assets.

      While Kowloon Motor Bus averaged 3.1 million passengers a day, the
      Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation and the Mass Transit Railway
      Corporation transported 3.3 million, he said.

      Nevertheless, KMB's assets of $6.5 billion paled into insignificance
      compared with the railway firms' combined total of $186 billion, he
      said, quoting figures from the companies' annual reports.

      Hopewell Highway Infrastructure, the newly listed subsidiary of
      Hopewell Holdings, will enter a bid if the central government gives
      the project a green light and allows private participation.

      But James Blake, KCRC's senior director of capital projects, said
      the method of comparing companies' assets and passenger flow to
      determine efficiency was unfair.

      "The rail corporations in Hong Kong pay for everything," Mr Blake
      said. "They have to pay for land, all the infrastructure and the
      full life cycle of the rail system to ensure safe and reliable

      Meanwhile road users had free access to roads, he pointed out,
      adding that bus companies did not have to carry the costs of road-
      building on their accounting books.

      Mr Blake also contended that rail systems had an advantage in that
      they were extensive and connected with other modes of transport,
      which could create long-term synergy for the region's entire
      transport network.

      Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen yesterday was non-committal
      on whether the bridge would be financed by private or public funds,
      but said it must operate on prudent commercial principles.

      "It should mean [any projects] might one day be listed on Hong
      Kong's stock exchange, as did the MTRC," he said. "Therefore it is
      our policy that this principle should be abided by and I am not
      ruling out the possibility that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge
      could become either a private-party-participation kind of scheme or
      some variation of that."

      Mr Leung said if the road option was adopted, Hopewell Highway
      Infrastructure would not seek government financing as it and its
      partners should be able to contribute $5 billion of equity capital
      and raise the remaining $10 billion from banks.
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