The government’s latest overall budget for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project amounts to 16.4 billion patacas ( US$ 2.05 billion) – but not including the still unscheduled LRT peninsula section, Mak Soi Kun, who heads the legislature’s Follow-up Committee for Public Finance Affairs, quoted government officials as saying Tuesday.
Mak briefed reporters after a closed-door meeting of the committee. The members of the committee asked the officials, including Transport Infrastructure Office (GIT) Director Ho Cheong Kei, to brief them about the government’s latest overall budget for the city’s LRT system and how much the government has spent so far on the project.
The government has repeatedly reaffirmed that the LRT Taipa section is scheduled to be operational next year. The Taipa section, which includes Cotai, is 9.3 kilometres long and will have 11 stations.
The LRT was first proposed by the government in 2003. However, the main construction only started in 2012.
Speaking to reporters Mak said that the government has revised up its overall budget for the city’s LRT system from the initially-budgeted amount of 12.8 billion patacas to 16.4 billion patacas.
According to Mak, the government has put three additional components to its overall LRT budget, and therefore there are now eight components with a budget totalling 16.4 billion patacas.
According to Mak, the eight components are: 1) preparatory tasks for the operation of the LRT; 2) consultancy services; 3) train carriages, the setting-up of the LRT system and its various facilities and equipment; 4) the construction of the LRT Taipa section; 5) the LRT depot in Cotai – as well as the three newly-added components, which are 6) the construction of the Seac Pai Van section; 7) the Barra LRT station project; and 8) a study of the feasibility of building a sea-crossing LRT section connecting the peninsula’s Barrier Gate border checkpoint to the Taipa Ferry Terminal, via the land reclamation area known as Zone A.
The construction of the Barra LRT station, which is on the southernmost tip of the peninsula, has not yet got off the ground.
The government has said that the section connecting Taipa to Barra – via Sai Van Bridge – will not come into service at the same time as the LRT Taipa section. “Barra” is Portuguese for “harbour entrance”.
The government first revealed early this year that it would study the feasibility of building the LRT Barrier Gate-to-Taipa Ferry Terminal section (also known as “East” section), which is 7.8 kilometres long.
The government has been planning to build a section connecting the Lotus Checkpoint station – part of the Taipa section – to the Seac Pai Van public housing estate in Coloane, via the under-construction Cotai hospital, officially known as Cotai Healthcare Complex.
Mak said that the government’s latest overall LRT budget does not include the still unscheduled LRT peninsula section project, a section connecting the Lotus Flower Bridge border checkpoint in Cotai to Hengqin Island, and train carriages for the Seac Pai Van section.
Speaking to reporters after attending Tuesday’s meeting of the committee, Ho said the government expects the construction of the Barra LRT station to get off the ground in the fourth quarter of this year.
Ho also said that 9.8 billion patacas have been spent so far on the LRT Taipa section, adding he was confident that the total cost, including construction and the setting-up of the system, will not exceed the previously budgeted amount of 11 billion patacas.
Ho also said he was confident that the government-owned company responsible for the LRT operation in the future can be established by the end of the year.
The government said in April that it had hired the MTR Corporation Limited from Hong Kong to operate the LRT Taipa section for five years as well as to provide assistance in the run-up to the start of operations next year.