The government has admitted that not all the high speed rail trains will do the journey from Hong Kong to Guangzhou in 48 minutes, although the figure featured prominently in arguments for the new link.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the 48-minute journey time on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link was a calculation made by the previous administration, and documents submitted to the Legislative Council (LegCo) mentioned that it only applied to non-stop trains.

He added the government would have to negotiate with mainland Chinese authorities and research passengers’ needs to decide how many stops should be made.

The high speed rail terminal site. Photo: http://www.expressraillink.hk/

Last week, Ming Pao reporters tried the line from Shenzhen North station to Guangzhou South station, and a total of six stations were in use or under construction, where trains may stop.

Most trains made at least one stop, and the entire journey from Hong Kong to Guangzhou could take about 59 minutes, even longer if more stops were made. Current through trains from Hung Hom to Guangzhou take about 100 minutes.

In response, the government said that a total of four short-haul stations had been planned since applying for the project’s funding in 2009, and it had no plan to change this.

However, there are a few promises made by the former transport minister Eva Cheng Yu-wah and the former administration which may have already been broken.

Journey time:

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The government claimed that the journey time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou would be 48 minutes, compared with the existing train service, which takes around 100 minutes.[/mks_tab_item]
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The 48-minute journey time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou will only apply to non-stop trains.[/mks_tab_item]
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Joint checkpoint agreement:

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[mks_tab_item title=”Then”]
Eva Cheng said in LegCo in 2010 that “even without a joint checkpoint agreement, it does not mean it is not a high speed rail”, and the government hoped to find some intermediate plans, such as checkpoint facilities in stations in Guangdong province.[/mks_tab_item]
[mks_tab_item title=”Now”]
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has ruled out the possibility of having separate checkpoints for the high speed rail project in both Hong Kong and China, since there are no customs or immigration facilities in the stations in the majority of mainland cities with high speed rail connections.
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Funding:

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[mks_tab_item title=”Then”]
The government said that it will not ask for further funding from the LegCo.[/mks_tab_item]
[mks_tab_item title=”Now”]
The government said that the “no further funding” claim was responding to whether if it would ask for further operating funds, not the construction cost.

The government will seek approval of additional funding by LegCo so as to increase funding for the project by HK$19.60 billion.[/mks_tab_item]
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Economic Internal Rate of Return (EIRR):

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[mks_tab_item title=”Then”]
The government estimated the EIRR for the high speed rail project would be at six percent, about the same as other big infrastructure projects, and it will have other types of returns.

If the EIRR is higher than four percent, it would generally be seen as a feasible project.[/mks_tab_item]
[mks_tab_item title=”Now”]
The latest estimation of EIRR by the government has been lowered to four percent.[/mks_tab_item]
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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.