The Guangzhou-Zhuhai light railway project is less than 60 percent complete and will miss its targeted opening date of before the Asian Games in Guangzhou this November. The new target date is vague, with the most definite predictions seeing it finished in two years time. Most of the light rail stations are in Zhongshan, and construction on the northern section is moving slightly faster with this stretch expected to open before the Asian Games. The southern section is moving slower and it is unclear if it will meet the same opening date as the northern part. According to a report in a Guangdong newspaper, the last beam of construction has been set up in the northern railway section in Zhongshan, and the construction will progress into the renovation phrase. Li Lianghong, who is in charge of construction at Namlong station in the southern section said their goal is to complete construction of the station in Zhongshan by August 31. A bit of a rush However, there is still a lot to do such as post-renovation work, equipment setup and testing, telecommunications, water and a series of support works. It might be a bit rushed to open before the Asian Games. Site workers told the newspaper that progress at the Guangzhou, Shunde, and Jiangmen sections has been faster, and therefore the Guangzhou-Zhongshan section is expected to open before the Games. The Zhuhai station is the final terminal of the Guangzhou-Zhuhai system, and is on Changsheng Road in Gongbei, Zhuhai. According to the plan, in addition to the ground platform at the Zhuhai light rail station, there will also be two large underground transfer centres to facilitate drop-offs and the parking needs of taxis and other vehicles. Seamless transfers With a building area of 3.5 million square metres on each floor, this two-tier underground transfer centre will also contain the Guangzhou-Zhuhai intercity rail station vertical transfer area, and aims to meet the goal of seamless rail transport. To facilitate vehicle access, six entrances at the south, north and west in the basement of the station were developed to allow overseas visitors and residents in Zhuhai and Macau to conveniently transfer between transport modes. However, the property rights of the Zhuhai station complex belong to a total of more than 20 entities, including central government institutions and the police department, making coordination more difficult. In addition, there are a series of underground pipeline systems in Gongbei which link to those in Macau, making construction more difficult. According to the latest figures released by the Zhuhai Municipal Development and Reform Bureau, the constriction at the Zhuhai station of the Guangzhou-Zhuhai light rail was 58 percent complete as of March. Piles and pipelines The design of preliminary construction is being assessed by the Ministry of Railways, while the bridge pile foundation works have started. According to a source, the original construction period of the Zhuhai station was supposed to be two years. But demolition and reconstruction of the underground pipelines has been very difficult and is holding things up. Issues such as compensation and tenant relocation also take time. The project also involves the land at the entry and exit channels for Macau and Zhuhai which cannot be tampered with at this time. According to the two-year development plan, the Zhuhai station still needs two more years to complete and open, that is to say, it will be completed by 2012 at the earliest. A rail big job As the main axis of the Pearl River Delta Rail Network, construction of the 143-kilometre Guangzhou-Zhuhai intercity railway began on December 18, 2005. The main Guangzhou-Zhuhai line is 117 km long and the Xiaolan-Xinghui branch line about 26 km. The north section of the main line starts in Guangzhou city extending to Xiaolan across the Xijiang River and passing Guzhen, Jiangmen, and Xinhui in Zhongshan. After completion of the Guangzhou-Zhuhai intercity railway, people in Xinghui will be able to arrive in Zhongshan in 10 minutes. It will take about 30 minutes to Zhuhai and Guangzhou, and an hour to Shenzhen. On completion Xinhui and Jiangmen will be integrated into “the Pearl River Delta one hour city circle.” Trains will run from 6am to midnight and there will be an estimated 39.5 million passengers daily in the short-term, and 55.7 million passengers in the long-term. The system starts from a new railway station in Panyu, through cities including Panyu, Shunde, Zhongshan, Zhuhai and other industrial towns in neighbouring urban areas. Economic scholars believe its completion will allow integration of resources across the Pearl River Delta region and will enhance the cooperation between cities. It will also improve economic development, accomplish cost reductions, and promote the industrial upgrading and transformation of the region.