Two contracting groups have scooped US$397M worth of design and build tunnelling contracts from Hong Kong’s Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) for construction of the 3.8km Kowloon Southern Link.

The contracts are the largest tunnelling deals to be awarded in Hong Kong since the KCRC’s West Rail scheme in 1998. The contracts have been won by a group led by Leighton Contractors (Asia), the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Australia’s largest construction firm, and China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong), an offshoot of China’s biggest contractor.

The largest slice, worth US$260M, has been awarded to the Leighton group for the construction of the southern section. Other partners in the group are Britain’s Balfour Beatty Group including its Hong Kong subsidiary Gammon Construction, Japan’s Kumagai Gumi, Australian firm John Holland, which is also part of the Leighton group, plus design consultants Mott MacDonald and Meinhardt.

The southern section runs between West Kowloon station and the existing East Tsim Sha Tsui station. The contract includes construction of twin running tunnels under two busy streets, Canton Road and Salisbury Road, in the heart of the Tsim Sha Tsui tourist district. Plans call for the construction of twin 8m diameter tunnels, more than 1km long, from the former Marine Police headquarters at the Canton Road/Salisbury Road junction to West Kowloon station, together with a 360m long underground station box for West Kowloon station. A 100m long section of box tunnel will be built to link with the northern section, while cut-and-cover techniques will be used to complete the tunnel from Salisbury Road to East Tsim Sha Tsui station.

KCRC said three shafts will be excavated using cut-and-cover techniques. Gammon Construction said an 150m long launch box will be constructed south of the West Kowloon Station to install the tunnel-boring machine which is likely to be supplied by Germany’s Herrenknecht.

Gammon Construction chief executive Thomas Ho said: “A mixed shield slurry tunnelboring machine has been selected to provide maximum control and capability in the anticipated geological conditions and facilitate the sensitivity of the adjacent structures.”

China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) will build the northern section under two contracts with a combined value of US$140M. The first calls for the construction of running tunnels from the West Rail terminus at Nam Cheong station to the Yau Ma Tai ventilation building under a contract worth US$82M. China State will continue tunneling work from the ventilation building to West Kowloon station under a US$58M order. The tunnels will be about 1.9km long in total.