Expressions of interest from consultant JVs have been invited by MTR Corporation (MTRC) for the detailed design of tunnelling and associated structures on part of the Express Rail Link (XRL) to be built between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Deadline for submissions is 18 September and appointments for the works – arranged in two major packages covering the section of twin tubes in Hong Kong territory – are due to be announced in early 2009.

XRL will be a 26km long railway running from West Kowloon, in Hong Kong, to Shenzhen and Guangzhou provinces, and be built mostly in tunnel. Combinations of excavation methods are expected to be required for the route, from TBM and drill and blast to cut and cover construction.

Two packages are being prepared for detailed design – C802 and C803. The former, “South” package is a stretch approximately 15km long from West Kowloon to Pat Heung Vent Building. The latter, “North” package runs on for approximately 10km to the boundary crossing, and includes an emergency station and sidings at Shek Kong.

MTRC said that there would be close liaison with mainland authorities to agree on arrangements for the tunnel section at the boundary crossing. The section on the mainland, from Guangzhou to Shenzhen, is scheduled to begin operating in 2010. It added that the cross boundary link would use a dedicated corridor in tunnel to ensure capacity is achieved and operational compatibility with the mainland and connect to the high-speed network.

The client took over the project after its merger with Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) at the end of 2007.