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Mass Transit Railway’s West Island Line Project


For my assignment, I have chosen the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), a Hong Kong-based company. Out of the various ongoing projects, I plan to do the Project Management Report on the West Island Line (WIL) project. The length of the route will be about 3 km and the capacity and frequency of the train shall be 85,000 passengers per hour per direction.

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The financial aspects of the project were authorized by the Executive Council during May 2009. The Legislative Council endorsed the project during July 2009. The WIL project started in July 2009. It proposes to fetch 85,000 passengers per hour per direction.

Principles of Project Management

Background and principles of Project Management

Project Management is done to prepare, synchronize, and manage the multifarious activities of business projects. Project Management is normally compared to the three balls that are juggled by the circus performers (Reiss). By developing Project Management, we can visualize the future risks and hurdles in the implementation of any project and can take suitable remedial measures. Risks and opportunities are inversely proportional to each other. When there is any risk, some opportunities might be there and similarly, in opportunities, there are bound to be risks. But if the anticipated gains are more than the losses, then the risks are acceptable (Burke, 1999). At the WIL project, there are a few risks such as the workers have to blast their way through rocks. This might be very risky at times. But WIL has its workers insured and the opportunity that lies in blasting the rocks is that if the company doesn’t do this, the railway tracks have to be laid for a longer distance. Practically, MTR has “four key challenges: tight program, limited time and budget, complex construction and multi-discipline E&M interface” (West, 2011).

Project Management includes planning, making the required arrangements, selecting the right staff, providing instructions, keeping a tap on the progress, executing remedial measures, being innovative, and finally coordinating with the customers. All project management applications have fixed guidelines that plan first and then execute (Wideman, 1999).

A project can never be successful if there is no teamwork. The top management people should leave their egos and work as a team. Only then they can achieve success (Lampl).

“MTR Corporation functions under a strong governance framework supported by control mechanisms that clearly delineate the responsibilities and accountability of the Board of Directors, the Executive Directorate and company managers” (MTR).

Viability of projects

A project is said to be viable or justified if the proposed goals are achieved. The project should be designed in a manner such that the chances of achievement of such goals are maximized (Brookes).

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Although there are set principles of management yet the application of the principles may be beneficial in some circumstances and harmful in others. The principles should be considered as a reference and not as a method (Manas, 2008). There is no point in completing a project if it’s not successful, though its cost is within the budget and it has been completed within the time frame. If the management of any project is poor, the problems don’t appear unless the project has failed (Gumz).

According to MTR’s Lee, “Most (railway projects) involve many government departments. We must deal with a dozen bureaucratic departments at the same time, satisfying their secret agendas. That will be difficult” (Shih, 2011).

To sum up, WIL follows the ethics and morals of business management because it cares for its stakeholders.

Systems and Procedures

In any project, the span, the features, the time, and the cost are reciprocally consistent. If one is changed, the others are bound to change. To keep these factors consistent, the management and the supervisors of MTR take great care and precautions.

The project of WIL is under the MTR Corporation, headed by Mr. Rod Hockin, General Manager – WIL/SIL. Then there are various Project Managers and Construction Managers to supervise different departments like civil, E&M, Control systems, Building services, etc. The executive teams of different departments are under the competent supervision of committed Senior Construction Engineers. Some of them are; Mr. Tom Barrett for Tunnels, Mr. Patrick Cheng for Civil, Mr. John Ho for Comms & Radio, and Mr. Rodney Ng for MCS.

Safety is the prime concern of MTR management. All the employees of MTR are trained to adhere to the safety standards. Regular reviews of the safety system and standards are conducted and new safety features are incorporated whenever and wherever necessary. “Safety demands active involvement by all. It is the responsibility and duty of everyone and should be foremost at all times in everything we do. All employees have a duty to protect our customers, the public, contractor, colleagues and themselves” (MTR).

The management of MTR is also concerned about the health conditions of its workers. It is considered the responsibility of MTR’s management to ensure the health and safety of its workers. The participation of all the employees of MTR is sought in achieving the management’s commitment to health and safety. “We accept that only through the joint efforts of everyone concerned can we achieve high safety standards and contribute to improving our safety performance” (MTR).

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The management of MTR has clearly defined the milestones of the project. It’s not that only the start and completion dates are fixed. There are so many tasks in between whose deadlines have been defined. In this way, the WIL project proceeds towards a successful completion in a well planned and phased manner. If a project is being done in a phased manner, it means that the project has been divided into various segments, and then these segments are completed in a phased manner (Wysocki, 2011). But at the same time, the management should keep in mind that the deadline or targets should be achievable. A person may be convinced to accept a target but he cannot be forced to complete it successfully, on time (Edwards et al, 1997).

MTR uses various construction techniques in constructing the railway line. The three main techniques used are cut & cover drill & blast, and tunnel boring.

Key elements

The key elements involved in conducting the post-project appraisal at MTR are as mentioned below:

  • Technical performance
  • Cost performance
  • Time taken
  • Project planning and control
  • Relationship with the customer
  • Teamwork
  • Communication system
  • Problems faced during the project
  • Recommendations for future projects

In addition to these actions, a post-project customer evaluation survey is also done.

Project Organization

Organizational structure

The projects of MTR are governed by the Board of Directors. The board mainly concentrates on the company’s policies regarding finance and shareholders. The daily routine work management has been delegated to the Executive directorate. The CEO of the company is the head of the Executive directorate. Other members of the Executive directorate are the heads of different divisions of the project. The heads of such departments are assisted by senior managers in supervising the project and apprising the board of the progress and performance (MTR). Following is the management team at WIL:

  • Mr. Rod Hockin: General Manager – WIL/SIL
  • Mr. Brenden Reilly: Project Manager – WIL Civil
  • Mr. Dono Tong: Project Manager – WIL/SIL E&M
  • Mr. Stephen Hamill: Construction Manager – WIL
  • Mr. David Salisbury: Construction Manager – WIL
  • Mr. Herbert Leung: Construction Manager – WIL/SIL Control System
  • Mr. K. M. Lock: Construction Manager – WIL/SIL Building Services
  • Mr. P. W. Lau: Design Manager – WIL

Following is the list of engineers from various departments within WIL:

  • Mr. Tom Barret: Senior Construction Manager – Tunnels
  • Mr. Ashley Calvert: Senior Construction Manager – Tunnels
  • Mr. Patrick Cheng: Senior Construction Manager – Civil
  • Mr. Walter Lam: Senior Construction Manager – Civil
  • Mr. James Ho: Senior Construction Manager – Comms & Radio
  • Mr. Kenneth Lo: Senior Construction Manager – BS
  • Mr. Rodney Ng: Senior Construction Manager – MCS

The organizational structure of WIL is explained in ‘Appendix 2’.

Control and co-ordinate project

The project manager should have the capability of developing an incorporated system to plan, instruct, monitor, and control bulk data and that too accurately, so that the problem solving and decision-making process is simplified (Burke, 1999). The project manager must make available the exact expertise and resources when and wherever needed and to make sure that the work is executed promptly and cost-effectively (Meredith et al).

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At WIL, the Project Manager is directly responsible for the progress and successful completion of the project. He has control over all the resources of the project, including the procurement. He is supported by a project office. The office has a Manager and his support staff. The staff of this office is responsible not only for the administrative works but it also provides significant information on shared services like inventory, accidents, backlogs, etc. It keeps track of the detailing and progress of the project following the given guidelines. The staff also manages the documentation and generation of reports. The project manager coordinates the contractors of tunnel excavation, civil work, track laying, etc. He conducts periodical meetings to ensure that the works of various contractors are being carried out as per schedule so that the work of the next stage is not delayed.

If there are knowledgeable people in a team, then the follies that occurred don’t matter (Demarco). Projects need people to work whole heartedly because projects are one time jobs (Lewis, 1941).

Project Leadership Requirements

At WIL, Project leaders are selected based on their leadership qualities. The project manager organized a press conference to spread awareness of noise pollution and how MTR will reduce this kind of pollution. He also arranged with renowned people from society for a similar purpose. This shows his communication skills. Whenever the workers have any technical problem, they always take advice from the project manager. This shows his expertise in technical matters as well. The project manager is an efficient leader as well and he can keep unity among the workers. This develops a feeling of teamwork and the work is accomplished with ease.

Human resources and requirements for MTR project

To keep the work going on smoothly, it is very crucial to maintain an organized workforce. The project manager is an expert in leadership qualities. He knows how to handle such a huge workforce. At weekends, after the duty hours, he gathers all the workers and arranges tea and snacks for them. He addresses them sympathetically and asks for any problems that they might have. This behavior of the project manager garners honor and respect for him. The workers come forward and express their problems and in turn, the project manager tries his level best to find solutions.

At WIL, the project managers identify such resources that are very crucial for the project. The project managers also analyze the organization and its working pattern. They are always ready for any emergencies when some of the workforce people don’t attend to work due to illness or other problems. In such situations, there is always a backup plan.

Project Process and Procedures

Project Plan

The WIL project is scheduled for completion by 2014. A detailed schedule is in ‘Appendix 1’.

A project plan of MTR is tabled at ‘Appendix 3’.

Project scheduling, estimating, and cost control techniques

Project scheduling, estimating, and cost controls are the main factors of a project management system. For companies engaged in future construction, the right forecast of the future project cost is very significant (Manfredonia et al, 2010). There are four criteria of scheduling and cost control namely, directing progress, directing actions, controlling results, and conserving resources (Taylor, 2007).

Project schedule and cost control procedures are very important for any project. The diagram in Appendix 4 explains the relation. If one of them is changed, the other will automatically have to change. Suppose if the deadline is shifted ahead, the cost of the project will increase due to the resources involved. Similarly, if the estimate is reduced by a specific amount, the duration of the project will have to be increased because the resources cannot be increased and with the same resources, more time will be required.

Methods used to measure project performance

The methods used to measure the performance of the MTR project are:

  1. The specific milestones are identified and determined,
  2. The scope of work is well defined,
  3. A risk Plan is made about all individual sites
  4. Ways of averting these risks are clearly defined
  5. The project plan is executed effectively and following the guidelines laid down by the management.

The project manager, in coordination with his/her seniors, identifies the specific targets to be achieved. The project manager calls a meeting of his/her subordinates and clarifies, in detail, all the aspects of the project. Great stress is laid on the quality and timely completion of the assigned work. Each department is assigned the related work and the teams are motivated to perform well. In any project there ought to be risks. As such, all the expected risks are considered and consequently, an action plan is made to avert or handle such risks. The project manager consults his/her site engineers for their practical experiences and how they resolved or averted such risks. Having done this, the team is asked to continue their work professionally while taking the required precautions. All the guidelines of the project are followed strictly and any deviation calls for an explanation.

An effective performance measurement system will always provide significant and constructive information. Such information assists the decision-makers in making appropriate decisions. The daily operations are affected by these systems (Nixon, 2007).

Project change control procedures

With the help of the Change Control procedure, the incorporated changes are exactly distinct, assessed, and accepted before the realization (Overveen).

Whenever any written request for a change in the procedure is received, all the team members are consulted before arriving at any conclusion. Whatever decision is taken, the same is informed to the concerned parties. In case of a change in the procedure is accepted, the required changes are made in the documentation.

Even though while formulating the procedures great care is taken that all the related aspects are considered but it sometimes happens that some particular situation is not mentioned in the procedures. In such situations, the concerned engineers or contractors cannot change the procedure at their will. They have to make a formal written request to the concerned project manager, who in turn consults the management. Once the management approves the changes, the same is notified to the concerned parties.

It should be understood by the Change Control Process that although changes are essential, yet too many changes can result in the project failure (HRA Consulting).

Evaluation of the completed project

Project evaluation has eventually taken the form of a comprehensive evaluation framework. The institutional environment and the interests of the stakeholders are taken into consideration (Haezendonck, 2007).

By way of this report, I have been able to explore the WIL project. The uniqueness of WIL can be gauged from the fact that it has to go uphill and downhill at Sai Ying Pun and Hong Kong University. After completion, WIL will be a blessing for the students of Hong Kong University because the university is situated on a high hill and access on foot is difficult. The station will have vertical lifts.

It is expected that after the completion of the WIL, the property and rent prices will go up and benefit the landlords.

WIL will be a transport source that will be quick, well-timed, trustworthy, dependable, and above all convenient. The project will help in reducing the traffic snarls in the Western areas and also reduce the number of fatal accidents. It will act as a business link between the Western and the Central business areas. The Western areas were until now isolated from mainland China. As such, there wasn’t much progress business-wise and infrastructure wise as well. The WIL, on one hand, will generate a lot of employment opportunities for the locals and on the other hand, it will bring business opportunities for those who are business-minded.

It is a well-known fact that road traffic is a major cause of air pollution. The reduction in road traffic will reduce air pollution to a great extent and enhance the quality of the air. Since the MTR trains will use electricity as their source of power, there is no chance of any air pollution. MTR trains can be said to be environmentally friendly. Other benefits include less noise pollution, the safety of life, and a better standard.


The WIL project is by the transport policy of the Government, according to which the railway system is to be the backbone of the transport system. The addition of three new stations namely Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong University, and Kennedy town, will ease the road traffic congestions in the area. The project, once completed, will connect the Western district to the Central business district.

The residents of the Western district have long been waiting for an alternative transport system and WIL will put an end to their wait. Further, numerous employment opportunities have been created that have helped the natives. The properties situated along the railway will have a value appreciation.

The best part is that since the MTR trains are electrically empowered, they are eco-friendly and will help in improving air and noise pollution. The road hazards (accidents) will be avoided to a great extent because people will start traveling by the MTR.


MTR is doing a commendable job. It is understood that the company has hired the best of professionals, but even then, the company should encourage suggestions from the public. It may get some important feedback on any particular subject that might have been overlooked.

Though the company is already doing some community works, the quantum of such acts should be increased. Another recommendation is that the company should be very particular about the environment. It should formulate a policy wherein, a tree should be planted for each tree that has been cut to make way for the project. This way, the company would be maintaining an ecological balance.

Apart from the proposed Information center, the company should plan to construct a museum also. The museum should portray the history of Hong Kong’s transportation system and MTR’s contribution in bringing it to today’s standard.

Economic Value Addition: Due to the increase in the construction costs and other overheads, the burden is bound to increase on the passengers. This is because no company will conduct business at a loss. The cost will be added to the tickets. People who can’t afford the costly tickets will have to travel by cheaper modes of transportation such as buses. This will again result in traffic chaos on the already busy streets. So it is understood that gradually, the MTR project is becoming economically unviable.

Reference List

Brookes n.d., What is project viability? Web.

Burke, R 1999, Project Management Quotes Pipe, Web.

DeMarco, T n.d., Project Management Quotes Pipe, Web.

Edwards, Butler, Hill, Russell 1997, Project Management Quotes Pipe, Web.

Gumz, J n.d., Project Management Quotes, Web.

Haezendonck, E 2007, Transport Project Evaluation, Edward Elgar Publishing, Northampton, USA.

HRA Consulting n.d., Project Change Management, Web.

Lampl, F n.d., Project Management Quotes, Web.

Lewis, J. P 1941, Project Leadership, McGraw-Hill Professional, New York.

Manas, J 2008, Napoleon on Project Management: Timeless Lessons in Planning, Execution, and Leadership, Thomas Nelson Inc, Nashville, Tennessee.

Manfredonia, B., Majewski, J. P., Perryman, J. J 2010, Cost Estimating, Web.

Meredith, Mantel n.d., Project Management Quotes Pipe, Web.

MTR n.d., Governance, Web.

MTR n.d., Serving you, Web.

Nixon, J 2007, Guidance on Performance Measure Management, training for Performance Measure Management, Web.

Overveen, C n.d., Management Articles, Web.

Reiss, G n.d., Project Management Quotes Pipe, Web.

Shih, TH 2011, China’s railway rush on a track to trouble, Web.

Taylor, J 2007, Project Scheduling and Cost Control: Planning, Monitoring and Controlling, J. Ross Publishing, USA.

Turner, J. R 2008, The Handbook of Project-based Management, McGraw-hill Prof Med/Tech, USA.

West, D 2011, Building Hong Kong’s railway infrastructures, Web.

West Island Line n.d., Construction: Project Management, Web.

Wideman, R. M 1999, Fundamental Principles of Project Management, Web.

Wysocki, R. K 2011, Effective Project Management, John Wiley & Sons, Indianapolis.

Appendix ‘1’

Programme/ Timetable

Appendix ‘2’

Chief Executive

Appendix ‘3’

Contract No. Contract Name Contract awarded on Target date of completion Contractor Status
701 Modification of Sheung Wan Station April 2010 2012 Sun Fook Kong Construction Ltd. In progress
703 Sheung Wan to Sai Ying Pun Tunnel Construction August 2009 2013 Dragages – Maeda – BSG Joint venture In progress
704 Sai Ying Pun and Hong Kong University Station, and Sai Ying Pun to Kennedy Town Tunnel Construction March 2010 2014 Gammon Nishimatsu WIL Joint venture In progress
705 Kennedy town station and overrun tunnel construction December 2009 2014 Gammon Construction Ltd. In progress
706 Access shafts at Kennedy town Praya and Hill road July 2009 2010 Paul Y Construction Company Ltd. Completed
706 A Slope upgrading and natural terrain mitigation works November 2009 2011 Paul Y Construction Company Ltd. Completed
708 Temporary underground magazine construction July 2009 2010 Gammon Construction Ltd. Completed
710 Re-provisioning of Kennedy town swimming pool (phase 1) July 2009 2011 Paul Y Construction Company Ltd. Completed
711 Re-provisioning of David Trench Rehabilitation Centre July 2009 2011 Sun Fook Kong Construction Ltd. Completed
714 Project site office and works area July 2009 2010 Sun Fook Kong Construction Ltd. Completed
715 Trackwork and overhead line December 2010 2014 Eiffage Rail – Tak Yue Joint venture In progress
716 Instrumentation and monitoring October 2009 2014 Lam Geotechnical Ltd. In progress
7201 Tree transplanting July 2009 2010 Yee Sun Garden Ltd. Completed

Appendix ‘4’

Network diagram

Network diagram

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