Lawmakers on Legco's railways subcommittee on Tuesday took turns to slam the government over the HK$18.9 billion bill for the Tung Chung Line extension, pointing out that the current estimate is three times the one made in the Railway Development Strategy 2014.
Under the plan, two new stations will be built to the east and west of the current Lantau Island terminus.
The tunnels for the line and the Airport Express at Hong Kong Station will also be extended for quicker train turnaround in the future. The six-year long construction is expected to begin in 2023.
At a meeting of the railways subcommittee, lawmakers said the project is too expensive and will only be finished years after people move into the public housing estates that are coming up in the area.
Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said the high cost of the 1.3-kilometre extension makes it more expensive than other current railway projects in Asia and Europe.
A lawmaker from the pro-Beijing DAB party, Ben Chan, was also critical of the price tag. He said the plan doesn't meet the needs of residents who will start moving into apartments in the area, even though there won't be any trains for them.
The first batch of 31,000 public housing residents are expected to move into the new homes there in 2024.
Transport Secretary Frank Chan explained that the cost has increased partly because of the plan to build a Tung Chung East station, which will sit on a reclamation site.
Speaking on the project later, Jeremy Tam from the Civic Party also echoed the criticism.
“They keep talking about two stations over there. Well, the extension is only for Tung Chung West. Tung Chung East is already an existing railway, you just build a station over there,” he said. “Doesn’t matter how you look at it, it is pretty expensive.”