Mining expert’s report on plan for peak tunnel, 1939

HJF: IDJ has sent in the following newspaper article. I have indicated in square brackets where the script was unclear or I was not sure what the newspaper print means. The tunnel was never completed, and I have inserted photos of The Peak and Aberdeen in the 1930s for those unfamiliar with the mountain and town.

Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyping of the article.

The Peak, Hong Kong, 1930s Picryl

The Peak, Hong Kong, 1930s Source: picryl

Mining Experts Report

In pursuance of its campaign for deep tunnel air raid shelters in Hongkong, the ”Telegraph” is able today to publish a report by a Consulting Mining Engineer on the practicability of the scheme for driving a tunnel through the base of the Peak from the city to the Aberdeen side.

The report has been compiled and made at the request of this newspaper.

It discloses that the scheme for such a tunnel is entirely practicable, and would afford complete protection during air raids for 100,000 people.

In times of peace, the tunnel could be used to accommodate a double stream of vehicular traffic linking the northern and southern sides of the island by a direct route.

The total cost, exclusive of road surfacing, would be $1,160,300. The scheme could be completed in ten months.

The report received by the ”Telegraph” is a comprehensive document, covering every detail of the proposed plan.

It envisages a drive, 12,00o feet long, right through the base of the Peak.

Harbour Reclamation

The height of the proposed tunnel would be 20 feet, the width 40 feet.

The area of the section, which would be semi-circular, would be 1,356.6 square feet.

Total yardage to be removed would be approximately 280,000 cubic yards.

The Engineer suggests that the major portion of this could be used for the reclamation in Connaught Road, where Government has decided to extend the Praya by reclaiming an extensive area from the harbour between Pottinger Street and the Naval Yards.

The cableway which was used at Shing Mun during construction of Jubilee Reservoir, and which is now lying idle, could be utilised to carry the soil over the city streets into the harbour reclamation.

Ten Month’s Work

The Report estimates that the drilling speed, working at both ends with three shifts, would be 40 feet per day. At this rate the tunnel would be completed in ten months.

Estimated cost of Labour and Supervision is $193,000 as follows:

Chief Engineer at $1,250 per month
Superintendent at $1,000 per month
8 shift bosses at $500 per month
1 Superintendent mechanic at $500 per month
1 Electrical Engineer at $500 per month
100 machine drillers at $1.50 per day
100 helpers at $0.80 per day for total
100 coolies at $0.70 per day
50 fitters at $1.50 per day
1 Chinese General Foreman at $250 per month
0[?] Chinese shift foremen at $100 per month
Total $193,500

Estimated cost of equipment (allowance is made in the full estimate depreciation) is $193,000. This includes a ventilation system which would become a permanent fixture.
The equipment cost is computed as follows:
Air compressors, 1,000 cubic foot units (2 for harbour side, 2 for Aberdeen) $60,000
Rock drills, heavy drifter type with cradies [?] $40,000
Drill sharpeners and accessory plant $16,000
Mucking machines, 2 required $10,000
Electric locos and ore cars $25,000
Ventilation system $30,000
Accessory plant $10,000
Total equipment plant $103,000

$672,000 For Explosives

More than half of the total cost would be required for explosives. the Report computing that 21lbs would be required per cubic yard of excavation. The total cost of explosives is set at $[672,000 or 872,000?]. In addition, allowance is made for 30,000lbs of Drill Steel ($13,500), Replacement Parts for all Equipment ($19,300), Electric Power ($25,000) and Contingencies (150,000).
Expenditure is summarised as follows:
Labour, etc $193,500
Equipment $193,000
Supplies, etc. $770,800

Grand Total $1,166,800

As can be seen from these figures, the estimated cost per cubic yard, allowing for full depreciation of plant and equipment would be $4.15.

$11.65 Per Person

With the ventilating system working, the tunnel could accommodate 100,000 persons without the necessity of drilling galleries.
The cost per person sheltered would be $11.05.
Apart from its undoubted usefulness in times of emergency, such a tunnel would materially solve Hongkong’s traffic problem. It would provide a direct traffic route right through the centre of the island and would open up the Aberdeen and other southern sections as residential areas, only five or ten minutes from the heart of the city.
If a toll system is employed the tunnel would repay capital expenditure within a few years.
Militarily, too, such a tunnel would probably b of the utmost importance to the Colony.

Source: The Hong Kong Telegraph 27th April 1939.

Aberdeen Harbour, Hong Kong, With The Peak Behind, 1930s Gwulo

Aberdeen harbour and town, and The Peak behind the town, 1930s. Source: Gwulo

This article was first posted on 13th May 2024.

Related Indhhk articles:

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  2. Connecting HK Island to Kowloon 1961 report proposing a bridge or tunnel?
  3. The Cross-Harbour Tunnel – Part 1 Gestation
  4. The Cross-Harbour Tunnel – Part 2 Construction
  5. KCR Beacon Hill Tunnel Ropeway – 1907
  6. The Beacon Hill Tunnel: The culmination of a grand engineering feat, 1931 newspaper article
  7. Construction of the Lion Rock Tunnels
  8. Cross Harbour Tunnel proposed, construction engineering expert interviewed in 1947 newspaper article
  9. Proposed Tramway linking Victoria and Aberdeen by Peak tunnel, 1906-1910
  10. Cross harbour road tunnel – link to planning of Shing Mun reservoir, late 1920s


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