Progress for the Macao LRT

Preface
The LRT system is the first railway transportation project in Macao. Its objective is to provide the residents and visitors with convenient, environmentally-friendly, reliable and comfortable public transportation services. With a public transportation network where bus services, taxi services and walking systems become integrated, complementary and seamlessly connected, more people will make use of public transportation, and the use of private vehicles is reduced as a result. As such the purpose of improving the overall public transportation environment will be met.

On the other hand, as the implementation of “Framework for Development and Reform Planning for Pearl River Delta Region” was determined, the integration of the Pearl River Delta Region is being deepened at a speedy pace. The regional railway transportation network is constructed rapidly. As such the inter-regional integration and urbanization with respect to transportation infrastructure are illustrated, and meet the needs for the development of a Guangdong- Hong Kong- Macao metropolitan area and a high quality life circle. In the future, through connecting their transportation infrastructure facilities, the connections among the cities in the area can be strengthened. As such there will be closer cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.

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Preliminary Study in 2003
The transport policies of Macao SAR Government aim to improve people’s living quality as well as to offer a sustainable and development-friendly public transport system. Early in 2002, the first Chief Executive of Macao SAR, Edmond Ho, had already mentioned this concept in his policy address, “In order to solve the urban transport issues, the Government will introduce a brand new mass transit system.” It was also the same year that he entrusted Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited (now known as MTR Corporation Limited) to stage a preliminary study on Macao urban railway transport system.

In February 2003, Macao SAR Government officially began a research on the construction of MLRT System. In the first feasibility study report, goals and requirements of building a railway transport system in Macao were determined. The report suggested that it would be more suitable for Macao to have a light rail system instead of others. Moreover, concept corridors serving residential, commercial and tourism zones were analyzed in the report as well. Following the feasibility study report was a public consultation, in which many residents shared their points of view to the Government.

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Feasibility Study in 2005
In the light of the railway technology revealed in the first phase of research and the public opinions and advices collected during the consultation, in 2005, the Government conducted a further feasibility study on MLRT System. The report in this stage set forth the system’s target group and analyzed a number of possible routes covering Macao Peninsula, Taipa and Cotai. Eventually, it reached a preliminary conclusion of building three lines of 27 km long with 29 stops along the way.

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Research for a Detailed Program in 2006
In 2006, Macao Government has conducted an in-depth research on MLRT System, aiming to further study the features of the line routes and service scope derived from the previous reports. “Detailed Research Program for MLRT” announced by the Government at that time considered elevated railway system as the most suitable alignment type for Macao. The program also suggested a railway system of two-track, round-trip and rubber-tyred. The railway would have a total length of 22 km with 26 stops along the way and trains arriving every 3 to 6 minutes. The design of the station placed a special emphasis on the installation of platform screen doors, escalator and elevator. Emphasis also laid on the use of natural ventilation and lighting system and barrier-free access. During the four-month public consultation, the government had collected opinions from the public, communities and business owners. After analyzed, it was understood that the general public is very concerned about the high density of train stops and the neglect of high-density residential areas.

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Research for an Optimization Program in 2007
After conducting a wide and in-depth technology assessment and considering the opinions derived from the assessment, the Government announced an “Optimization Program for MLRT System” in July 2007. This optimization program suggested that the lines in the first phase of MLRT System would be 20 km long, covering the border, high density residential areas and some tourist attractions. There would be 12 stations in Macao Peninsula connecting the eastern district from Border Gate to Barra. As for Taipa and Cotai, there would be 11 stations connecting Sai Van Bridge with Pac On Ferry Terminal. In total, the first phase of MLRT System would have 23 stations.

The program suggested MLRT System to be consisted of fully-automated and rubber-tyred trains running on elevated railways with a schedule of every 3 to 6 minutes. The whole system would feature energy conservation, environment protection and barrier-free access. In order to improve the capacity of the current public transport service and the integration of different transport services, stations situated in key locations would function as public transport interchange (PTI) stations. To accommodate with the interchange function, public parking facilities would be built near the stations as assistance.

After the 45-day public consultation, in October of the same year, the Government announced the construction of the first phase of MLRT System. In November 2007, “Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT)” was established and responsible of the design and construction of MLRT System as well as its future operational arrangements.

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Construction Program in 2009
In October 2009, GIT announced the construction plan of “the First Phase of Construction Program for MLRT System 2009” and the number of stations was adjusted to 21. In order to preserve space to connect the first phase construction with Macao World Heritage sites and the phase two construction in the future, the Barra station would be built underground on a large scale so that it could become the integrated transport hub between Macao and the region. Meanwhile, Nam Van Lake and Sai Van Lake lines connecting Barra and Nam Van would be built as tunnels, with the Sai Van Lake station built underground and the Nam Van Lake station built on grade level. The program aimed to help with the city orientation of Macao and to fulfill the need of integrating regional transport. Also, it was expected that during peak hours the passenger load per direction would increase gradually, with a person-time increased from 7,800 in the early stage of operation to 14,100 in 2020.

In the future, MLRT System would be connected with Guangzhou-Zhuhai Intercity Mass Rapid Transit (Guangzhu MRT) through the Lianhua-Hengqin line in a seamless way, providing Macao a platform to connect its railway system with the national intercity and high-speed rail network. With this achievement, Macao could connect itself with the whole country.

Tender for “Supplying Rolling Stock and Systems for the first phase of LRT System” has been released in December 2009.

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Design of LRT Sections in 2010
The construction works for the first phase of the Macao LRT gradually entered the substantial stage. With the routes and stations design work for Taipa’s three sections: “Taipa Central Section”, “Cotai Section” and “Taipa Terminal Section” being started in full swing in 2010, The design works were entrusted to local professional consulting companies, and experts with rich experiences in track designing were invited to provide an opportunity for the local industry to draw on experiences in engineering and construction from other regions, contributing to the future LRT construction work and the long-term development of local construction industry.

The international public open tender for the supply of the rolling stock and systems of the Macao LRT phase I was organized accordingly, resulting in a total of three companies handed in their bidding documents by the end of the bidding period in April. And the evaluation process started subsequently.

On the other hand, Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) signed an MOU with Department of Construction, Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Construction of P.R.C. under which GIT would receive technological assistance provided by the mainland over the LRT project. Besides, GIT organized a tour group to observe and study in Hong Kong, enhancing the cooperation and exchange over LRT transportation construction, operation and policy, and legislative cohesion, and paving the way for future work.

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Beginning of Construction in 2011
On March 3, 2011, Macao SAR government signed a contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Ltd. under which MHI would supply the rolling stock and systems of the Macao LRT phase I, symbolizing the launch of the manufacturing of LRT trains and systems for Macao LRT in full force. In order to encourage local residents to participate in different phases of LRT project, GIT held “Macao LRT Train Exterior Design Exhibition” in September 2011 after the manufacturer submitted the exterior design concept for Macao LRT train, attracting nearly 28,000 visitors. After that, “Ocean Cruiser” was chosen to be the design for Macao LRT train.

The construction work for the foundation of LRT depot, which serves as the “heart zone” of Macao LRT system, started in November of the same year, symbolizing the official launch of LRT project’s civil engineering construction. Besides, in order to solicit feedbacks from residents regarding the civil designs of different LRT sections, GIT presented to public in 2011 the design work for details of “Taipa Central Section”, “Cotai Section” and “Taipa Terminal Section”, enabling local residents to learn about the actual appearances of future stations through design sketches and models.

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Entering Massive Construction in 2012
Macao LRT project officially entered the stage of large-scale construction in 2012. In February and June, ground-breaking ceremonies for the construction of “Taipa Central Section”, “Cotai Section” and “Taipa Terminal Section” were held respectively, initiating constructions of different sections in succession and symbolizing comprehensive start of LRT project in Taipa.

Considering the extensive scope of LRT construction work, GIT introduced the concept of trial seal-off to road sections where traffic might be significantly affected, enabling road users to adapt to adjusted road conditions and collecting feedbacks from local residents to improve various arrangements for official seal-off. Besides, in order to respond to and deal with inquiries or complaints by local residents regarding LRT construction, GIT launched “LRT Zone – Taipa Liaison Station” in May to strengthen communication with communities and enhance transparency of the overall construction work, trying to minimize the impact caused by the construction.

The manufacturer of LRT train shipped 1:1 scale mockup of “Ocean Cruiser” in mid 2012, so that Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) held “1:1 Scale Mockup of Macao LRT Exhibition” on Sai Van Lake Square from June to July, showcasing interior design and components of the train car. The exhibition, which attracted over 8,000 visitors, enabled local residents to experience the design of future LRT train car. During the exhibition, a sample questionnaire survey was conducted to collect from local residents feedbacks regarding train car facilities, which would be referred to and used by specialized technological teams and train supplier to further improve the design.

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The Setting up of the Viaduct Pier in 2013
Following the initial phase of enclosure of the construction site, the 9.3km-long LRT Taipa line was put into formal construction in 2013 as the construction of the viaduct pier and its beams were commenced on some main trunks. The first three bridge piers and the first beam of the Taipa Line were completed in the second and the third quarter in 2013 respectively, indicating that the LRT entered the upper structure construction phase. Meanwhile, mass production of prefabricated pieces of the viaduct was launched in 2013.

As for the Macao peninsula line, in view of opportunities brought by rapid social and economic development and change in recent years as well as the approval for the light adjustment of the Macau new urban reclamation zone, the government entrusted the consultant teams to conduct research and discuss different possibilities for the south section of LRT Macao peninsula line.

With the implementation of detailed design of the system and trains, the LRT trains proceeded to the manufacturing phase. The first train was assembled in 2013 and a number of tests have been conducted in the manufacturing factory.

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Hoisting and installation of Viaduct Commenced in 2014
Following the gradual completion of the Taipa LRT viaduct pier foundation and beams, hoisting and installation of prefabricated pieces of the viaduct was commenced at the Rotunda do Aeroporto in the first quarter in 2014, indicating a new milestone of the construction of the LRT. Construction of stations along the Taipa Line also commenced. Among all of the stations, the main structure of the Taipa Ferry Terminal station was the first to be completed in 2014.

As for the Macao peninsula line, the plan for an overhead route scheme was adopted for the south section from Golden Lotus Station to Barra Station. Initially, a 90-day public consultation was planned concerning three different routing plans for the north section from Golden Lotus Station to Border Gate Station in order to select the best routing plan chosen through social consensus. 

On the other hand, the LRT trains and subsystem equipment have been put into mass production. The first batch consisted of 110 trains and a series of strict tests were conducted in the manufacturing factory to ensure the function and standards of the trains and relevant equipment.

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The Prototype of the Taipa Line in 2015
The hoisting and installation of the approximate 4-km viaduct of the LRT Taipa line was completed and the viaduct area between Ocean Station and Jockey Club Station was the first to be connected. Construction of the main structure of 11 stations was commenced and the exterior design of a number of stations was able to be seen.

As for the Macao peninsula line, the south section was still in the design and revision phase. The consultation result of the north section was released in the middle of 2015. The coastal routing plan, among three routing plans, won the most support from the public. The government would organize technical research later to prevent the construction from affecting traffic during the construction period with as little disturbance as possible.

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The connection works in the Taipa Line are completed in 2016
In 2016, the civil works of the Taipa Line viaduct, which is 9.3 kilometers in length, and 11 stations were mostly completed. Meanwhile, the construction works for depot superstructure restarted in the third season, and large-scale constructions commenced subsequently, so as to meet the objective to open the Taipa Line in 2019. The government also published the total budget for the Taipa Line as 11 billion patacas.

The government also planned to prioritize the construction of the Barra Station and the Seac Pai Van Line, while the actual route of the Macao Peninsula Line needs to be followed up on afterwards.

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