Vol 20 No 3 (12-2010)
Express Rail Link to Build Green Terminus in the Hong Kong Section

The Hong Kong terminus - The Express Rail Link (XRL)


The Express Rail Link (XRL) project, which has been planned for more than ten years, is one of the "Ten Major Infrastructure Projects" of Hong Kong. The XRL project will connect with the 16,000km long National High Speed Rail Network in Mainland. Upon completion, both Hong Kong and Mainland can enjoy great convenience in transportation. For example, it will only take 48 minutes, around half of the existing traveling time, to travel from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. Besides the greatly reduced travel time, related trades that are stimulated will enormously enhance the development of social cultural exchange and economy. Apart from these, the benefits of the XRL to the environment are also obvious, in order to implement the sustainable development concept in the XRL project, a number of environmental-friendly elements was adopted in the design of the terminus.

The Hong Kong terminus is located to the north of the West Kowloon Cultural District Development Area and in between Austin Station and Kowloon Station. Other than the West Kowloon Terminus as well as the stabling sidings and emergency rescue station at Shek Kong, the whole link adopts dedicated tracks and will be constructed underground. The alignment of the Hong Kong Section is divided into urban section and rural section. Urban section runs parallel to Lin Cheung Road, Hoi Wang Road, Tai Kok Tsui district and Sham Mong Road via Li Chi Kok Road Interchange and enters Kam Shan. Rural section goes through Kam Shan, Tai Mo Shan, Kai Kung Leng and Mai Po, eventually crosses the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Boundary and connects with the Mainland Section. The whole length of Hong Kong Section is 26km long without any intermediate stations. Construction cost of the project is about HKD $ 66.9 billion. The works has started in January 2010; and is expected to be completed by mid 2015.

Foundation work

Other than the South Entrance Building, the West Kowloon Terminus would be built mainly underground with a construction floor area 380,000 sq.m. The major works currently carried out at the West Kowloon are mainly piling and foundation works, which include:
1. Construction of diaphragm walls,
2. Constructions of socketed H piles and bored piles,
3. Diversion of roads and utilities, etc.

So far, 960 sq. m of diaphragm walls has been built and the depth of diaphragm walls ranges from 19.5m to 55.5m. Typical panel size of diaphragm walls is 1.5m x 6m. About 430 pieces of bored piles and 3,260 pieces of socket H pile will be constructed under the project. The diameter of the largest pile is 3m while the depth of the deepest pile is about 80m below ground.


Two major methods are applied in the work: Top-down and traditional Bottom-up approaches. The underground coverage of WKT reaches 11 hectare (ha), in which about 4ha will be constructed by bottom-up approach, while the rest 6ha will be constructed by Top-down approach.

Challenges and solutions

Since the site is close to the West Kowloon Cultural District and residential area, the contractor is adopting a series of mitigation measures to minimize the possible disturbance.

Noise mainly comes from heavy machinery such as piling equipment, generators, compressors and other powerful mechanical equipment (PME). In view of this, the contractor has chosen quiet power mechanical equipment (QPME) and avoided the use of drop hammer. Also, insulation equipment will be used to cover drill rigs; concrete breakers and crawler cranes to reduce noise level.

To deal with dust, several facilities will be applied, including: all trucks will be covered mechanically; extended boarding will be established to confine dust emission; vehicle wheels and body washing facilities will be provided at all exit points to avoid mud being taken to the public place. Water used in the facilities would be recycled to achieve environmental effectiveness.

Besides the above measures, the authority values the communication with residents. For example, there will be strict supervision over the site and noise/dust statistics and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report will be updated regularly to the XRL website to increase the transparency of the work. Also, Communication Liaison Group has been set up; quarterly project newsletters on XRL are published to maintain regular communications with stakeholders; individual meetings were arranged with nearby residence to listen to their concerns as well as sending representatives to the meetings arranged by the Legislative Council to exchange views with relevant district council members.

Sustainable Development

One of the features of the West Kowloon Terminus is its environmentally-friendly design. The terminus design team is heading to create a green, people and passenger-oriented terminus to preserve sustainability in the terminus operation in the future.

Since the platform of the terminus will be built at most 20m underground, a larger green public space is reserved for passengers on the ground floor. The 3ha green public space extending from the north end atop the Public Transport Interchange (PTI) to the civic plaza at the western side to the terminus and also includes the green area atop the terminus, making a green public area as large as about three standard football fields.

Considering Hong Kong's weather conditions, certain vegetation, such as Jacaranda mimosifolia, Cinnamomum burmanii and Elaeocarpus balansae etc. are selected to be planted in the PTI to make it a "fresh air sanctuary".

The roof and facade of the terminus have also adopted an innovative design. With the effective use of double skin low e-glazing, natural daylight will be transmitted into the station while heat level will be minimized; the use of T5 fluorescent tube and LED achieves high efficiency of energy saving; sea water will be used as a cooling medium for air-conditioning system; rain drops are collected for cleaning purpose; sensors are widely installed to control operations of the E&M systems.

The design of the terminus is of world-class level that provides a passenger-oriented structure. Escalators and lifts connect different levels of the terminus to make travelling easier and more efficient for passengers. A clear navigation system is provided for passengers to reach different floors of ticketing, arrival and departure etc. Besides, it is also effective in controlling the passengers' flow. Ancillary facilities such as Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities, Departure lounges, passenger arrival and departure halls, underground track area with platforms accommodating 9 long-haul trains and 6 shuttle trains at the same time, duty-free outlets, food and beverage outlets, station parking and loading facilities etc. are also included in the terminus facilities.

Another feature of the terminus is its pedestrian-oriented design. Two subways and six footbridges are planned to connect nearby areas including the Airport Express and Tung Chung Line of Kowloon Station and West Rail Line of Austin Station. Hence, passengers will be able to walk to the new Public Transport Interchange area in West Kowloon comfortably and easily. 8 to 10 minutes of walk will be required to travel from West Kowloon Terminus to Kowloon Station, and the time required to walk to Austin Station will be 2 to 3 minutes. It will take visitors less than 1 minute from nearby public transport drop-off points to reach the terminus on foot, or reach Central and most of the business districts in 15 minutes by other means of transport.


The construction project has commenced in January 2010, with the peak period will be from the end of 2011 until the end of 2013. The corporation estimated that the passengers' flow of XRL will attain 100 thousand per day starting from 2016 onwards; it will reach 200 thousand in 2030. Besides, 11,000 job opportunities will be created, including about 9,000 for constructions workers, 2,000 for general clerks, experts and technicians. In addition, the corporation is planning to boost related cooperative industries between Hong Kong and China after the XRL comes into service. It is estimated that about 10,000 job opportunities will be created. Being the Southern gateway of the countries' XRL network, the XRL (Hong Kong Section) is going to bring the highest economic benefits to the country. Its environmentally-friendly design further motivates Hong Kong to be a vibrant city of sustainable development.

Courtesy acknowledgement :
MTR Corporation Limited
for the information and pictures provided