High-speed rail passengers may have to ship their baggage separately if their items exceed mainland size limits.
Adi Lau, operations director of the MTR Corporation, said on Saturday that the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will follow mainland standards. The standards stipulate that the combined dimensions of luggage should be less than 130cm and weigh below 20kg.
Lau said the MTRC reserved space at the ticketing hall of the West Kowloon terminus for the baggage service. She added that the MTRC has been looking for logistics companies to provide the service.
The MTRC later added that there were no limits to the number of baggage items passengers should carry.
It said it was working with the mainland’s high-speed rail operator to see whether a flexible arrangement can be made.
Lawmaker Michael Tien, chair of the legislature’s subcommittee on matters relating to railways, said he believed 20kg of baggage would be adequate for passengers, but added that the shipping arrangement was not satisfactory.
“They take the high-speed rail because of the joint checkpoint arrangement, to reduce the trip duration as much as possible, but now [MTRC] tells them to ship their baggage,” Tien said on a Commercial Radio programme on Sunday. “If I really have to ship [my luggage], I might as well take a plane – why would I take the high-speed rail?”
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Economic Times and Hong Kong Economic Journal both cited unnamed sources as saying that the MTRC will have to spend around HK$100 million per year to provide meals to 700 mainland officers and staff working inside the mainland port area of the station.
The mainland port area will no longer be under Hong Kong jurisdiction for most matters starting from Tuesday.
Each meal will cost HK$100, according to the sources, and the MTRC may have to provide up to 3,000 meal boxes per day, adding up to HK$109.5 million a year. The cost of the meals will be high since it is expensive to transport the boxes and handle waste in the underground area.
The sources said the mainland will subsidise RMB6 (HK$6.89) per meal per person, which would add up to RMB4.6 million (HK$5.29 million) in total.
According to the law, the mainland personnel cannot leave the mainland port area. They will return to the mainland on the high-speed rail after shifts.
Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said the arrangement was “unrealistic and ridiculous.”
She questioned if the cost of the meals were exaggerated, or whether there will be more mainland staff in the area than previously reported.
In response to the reports, the MTRC told RTHK that it was responsible for the bidding process for the catering service. It said the bid submission process has ended and it was reviewing the bids. It added that mainland authorities will bear the cost for the service if they accept the results of the bidding process.