A train on Hong Kong’s new HK$84.4 billion high-speed rail took an hour and 18 minutes to reach the West Kowloon terminus from Guangzhou South station on a trial run – half an hour longer than the 48-minute trip touted by the government.
Guangzhou paper Southern Metropolis Daily reported that the trial, made last Saturday, was the first train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong since trial runs started on April 1. The train stopped at Humen, Shenzhen North, Futian and finally West Kowloon in Hong Kong. Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po also reported the same duration.
The Transport and Housing Bureau previously said that the 48-minute duration was calculated under the assumption that the train would make no intermediate stops. However, 96 percent of daily train journeys from West Kowloon are expected to stop at other stations before arriving in Guangzhou South, and stops are expected to take around five minutes at each station.
The current intercity train between Guangzhou East station and Hung Hom station in Hong Kong takes around two hours. A standard adult ticket for the service costs HK$210, whilst it will cost HK$260 to ride the Express Rail Link between West Kowloon and Guangzhou South.
MTR Corporation Operations Director Francis Li said on Monday that the running time during a trial cannot be taken as the final trip duration: “48-minute trip is still our goal. I hope we can make it – we will work towards this direction.”
“The train may have stopped at some stations where it shouldn’t have stopped, or it may even have missed some stations where it should stop,” he said.
He said the MTRC will discuss the timetable with mainland authorities.
Li added that there will be five booths at the West Kowloon terminus for passengers to buy tickets to other destinations in the mainland, but the details are still being discussed.
But Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said it was only possible for Hong Kong passengers to buy tickets for 18 mainland destinations – with additional transaction fees for trips between mainland stations – where trains from Hong Kong can go directly.
She said it was uncertain whether passengers will have to disembark in Guangzhou South to obtain tickets for some destinations in the mainland.
A joint checkpoint will be installed at the 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 its constitutionality, saying that it would effectively give up Hong Kong’s jurisdiction across a quarter of the station. Critics say the arrangement would amount to ceding land to China.