The government has denied a report saying that there will only be one non-stop train to Guangzhou scheduled per day for the upcoming Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL).

A Ming Pao report on Tuesday quoted a 2009 document from the MTR Corporation, citing a China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group Co Ltd study. It said there would be 190 trains departing from the West Kowloon Terminus, among which 96 percent would be trains with intermediate stops. Only eight direct trains to Shenzhen or Guangzhou would be running, it said.

“The details of operation mentioned in China Railway Siyuan’s report are only for reference in planning the train schedule and are not the final operation plan for the XRL. Till now, the actual train schedule of the XRL has not yet been finalised,” a spokesman for the Transport and Housing Bureau said.

Guangzhou South station. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The spokesman said that according to China Railway Siyuan’s final report in 2009, in the initial years of the commissioning of the XRL, there would be 90 and 24 daily round-trips for short-haul shuttle services between Hong Kong and the Shenzhen and Guangzhou areas respectively.

Of these 114 daily round-trip short-haul services, 61 of them – around 54 percent – would be direct trains. This includes eleven, five and 45 pairs of direct trains running between the West Kowloon Terminus and Guangzhou South Station, Humen Station, and Futian Station respectively.

High-speed link

The government has said that one of the benefits of the XRL was that the travelling time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou by train would be reduced significantly from about 100 minutes to 48 minutes, through a direct train with no intermediate stops. It meant that these direct trains consist of ten percent of all train services.

It takes around 43 minutes by metro to travel between Guangzhou South station to central Guangzhou. The station is considered a transit spot to other cities in China.

Shenzhen North station. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The government response did not mention the number of direct trains to Shenzhen North, another transit spot to cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.

The bureau said the Hong Kong side has been designing the project based on the 2009 plans and discussing the operational details, such as train schedules, the number of intermediate stops and the relevant travelling time, with the mainland authorities and operators.

“The THB must reiterate that there are various considerations, such as patronage demand, train operation and resources allocation of Hong Kong and the mainland, in formulating the train services schedule of the XRL,” the bureau said.

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.