Leighton Asia has scooped the lucrative US$417M contract to construct the 7.6km long, twin tube tunnels that form the Tse Uk Tsuen to Shek Yam section of the 26km, entirely underground, US$5bn Gaungzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL).
Contract 822, awarded by the client, Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation, includes tunnel construction by drill and blast under the Tai Mo Shan mountain at depths of up to 960m, ventilation and access adits, two ventilation buildings and a 90m deep ventilation shaft. The works will be undertaken in co-operation with Macmahon Holdings. Construction will start this month with completion scheduled for 2015.
Contract 822 is the second major tunnel contract awarded on the project following late January’s announcement that Penta-Ocean Construction had won the US$217M Contract 825, for the TBM construction of 2.19km of twin tube tunnel from Mai Po to Ngau Tam Mei.
There a further 7 tunnel contracts, both for drill and blast, and TBM construction which will are scheduled for award by summer this year: C826 – Huangang to Mai Po; C820 – Mei Lai Road to Hoi Ting Road; C823A – Kam Ting Tunnels; C821 – Shek Yam to Mei Lai Road; C823B – SSS and ERS; C824 – Ngau Tam Mei to Tai Kong Po; C827 – supply and installation of cross passage doors.
When completed the XRL will allow commuters from Hong Kong to reach Shanghai in eight hours and Beijing in 10hrs, halving the present 20hr journey.
It is estimated that the XRL will carry about 100,000 passengers daily in 2020 and 120,000 passengers in 2030, generating an economic benefit of US$10bn over the next 50 years in terms of travelling time saved. The economic internal rate of return is about 9%.
The Government has adopted a concession approach to fund the estimated US$5bn construction costs. Upon completion, the MTR will be granted a service concession for subsequent operation and pay the Government annually for the concession.