Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (Co-Location) Bills Consideration by Committee of the Whole Council

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

Deputy Chairman, I will speak briefly against the 24 amendments proposed by 9 Members. In fact, these amendments will not help solve the various questions raised by them at meetings of the Bills Committee. Some of the amendments, such as setting various expiry dates and introducing offence provisions, are fraught with distrust of the Mainland and SAR Governments as usual, which will only bring uncertainty to the enforcement of law.

The SAR Government proposed the idea of constructing the Hong Kong Section of XRL as far back as 2000. It has taken as long as 18 years for this railway of only 26 km in length to take shape from conception to scheduled commissioning this September. Starting from scratch is by no means easy, and we should encourage the SAR Government’s culture of “doing things”. Hence, I think I should, in my speech today, thank the SAR Government for its insistence on doing the right thing, the several Secretaries for Transport and Housing for their unremitting efforts, and the staff involved in the design, management and construction of the XRL project for their dedication, so that XRL, an important transport infrastructure, will soon be able to formally provide services to members of the public.

The commissioning of the Hong Kong Section of XRL will link Hong Kong with major Mainland cities with significantly reduced travelling time, thereby fostering closer social and economic ties between Hong Kong and the Mainland, and injecting new momentum into and creating new opportunities for the future development of Hong Kong in the medium and longer terms. As the co-location arrangement is critical to fully unleashing the benefits of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong XRL project, I support the passage of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (Co-location) Bill (“the Bill”) introduced by the Government without amendments.

I hope the Government will, after completing the legislative procedures for the co-location arrangement, promptly focus its work on the operational safety and convenience of XRL and eliminate all safety hazards, so that members of the public will feel at ease when travelling by XRL. While the MTR Corporation Limited (“MTRCL”) has been approved to sell tickets for 18 cities departing from or terminating at Hong Kong, it has not been authorized to sell tickets between Hong Kong and other Mainland cities. I hope that before the formal commissioning of XRL in September, the Government and MTRCL can reach a consensus with the Mainland Government and railway operators concerned on the ticketing options for the convenience of people.

Hong Kong people look forward to ushering in the era of high-speed rail. Despite the current twists and turns, I still hope for the early passage of the Bill after Third Reading in this Council.

I so submit. Thank you, Deputy Chairman.