Large items of luggage will not be allowed on Express Rail link trains when the system opens later this  year, the chair of the MTR Corporation has said. He also urged the legislature to finish reviewing the controversial joint checkpoint bill, so that legal obstacles can be removed.

Frederick Ma told a Commercial Radio programme on Sunday that he has to conduct “expectation management” for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

“It is the first time a high-speed rail service has operated here connecting to the mainland. There may be many things that people will criticise, and people should be prepared,” he said.

Frederick Ma
Frederick Ma. Photo: Stand News.

Ma said passengers will not be able to bring large luggage items on board, as trains are not planes.

“The train cabins are – after all – very small, so some passengers may think ‘why can’t I take my large luggage on the train – are there limitations?’ After operation starts, passengers will get used to that,” he said.

He also said that, because of different ticketing systems, passengers may not be able to buy tickets in Hong Kong for some destinations in the mainland. Thus, they will have to purchase them when changing at Guangzhou South Station.

“There will be some people who will say it is so inconvenient,” he said.

He urged the Legislative Council’s bills committee reviewing the controversial joint checkpoint arrangement to complete the process as soon as possible.

“You can express your opinion, but please do not stop the world from moving,” he said.

Express Rail Link
Photo: GovHK.

Hong Kong will effectively give up its jurisdiction across a quarter of the new West Kowloon terminus, where immigration and customs procedures will be performed by mainland law enforcement agents. The pro-democracy camp and the Hong Kong Bar Association have cast doubt over the constitutionality of the arrangement, with critics saying it amounts to a ceding of land to China.

The committee’s chair pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip set a deadline of Monday for lawmakers to complete their scrutiny before the bill travels to the house committee. It will then move on to the general meeting for final scrutiny.

lawmakers protesting express rail link
Lawmakers protesting against Regina Ip at the final joint checkpoint bills committee meeting.

The government is aiming for the bill to be passed before the legislature’s summer break in mid-July, ahead of the rail system’s expected launch in September.

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.