Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Martin Hennecke

MTRC on board in bid to cut high-speed fees to China
MTR Corporation (0066), the operator of the cross-border high-speed rail link in Hong Kong, is looking at ways to reduce the service charge on high-speed rail tickets to certain mainland cities, following Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's call for a reduction in the fees. Chairman Frederick Ma si-hang yesterday said the MTRC would try to negotiate with mainland rail operators to reduce the service fee for Hongkongers when buying high-speed rail tickets in the city. Passengers in the city can buy tickets to 18 destinations through the MTRC without paying a surcharge, but the service charge is required for trips to other destinations which are not included. Ma also said he hopes people to understand if the issue cannot be resolved. Speaking at the annual general meeting of the company, Ma said the MTRC is to provide 18,000 flats through 12 residential projects over the next six years. The construction of the ventilation building project at Yau Tong, which will offer 500 units, is expected to be completed in 2025, Ma said. As for shopping centre business, Ma expects Maritime Square at Tsing Yi and Telford Plaza at Kowloon Bay to generate improved revenues on completion of their renovation. In response to the disputes over MTR fares in the city, Ma said the company needs to continue proper maintenance of its facilities through a stable capital flow, adding that the average increase of 3.2 percent is lower than the levels of pay rises and inflation in Hong Kong. "We are the only rail company in the world which pays dividends to the government," Ma said, adding the company paid dividends which accounted for up to 80 percent of its recurrent net profits in the past. MTR fares are expected to rise by 3.14 percent from June . Some shareholders demanded lockers and toilets to be placed in the MTR stations at the meeting. Meanwhile, around 20 people yesterday protested outside the meeting venue at International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay over the fare rises of the past few years and the lack of public housing above MTR stations. The protesters from the Labour Party, League of Social Democrats and other civic groups said they are unhappy with fare increases year after year, despite the railway company making huge profits.

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