China’s high-speed rail network takes another giant leap forward next month with the introduction of a bullet train link from Beijing to Hong Kong via Guangzhou and Shenzhen, cutting journey time down from the current 24 hours to a mere nine.
The announcement was made last night by the China General Railway Company, who are working in conjunction with the Hong-Kong MTR Corporation to open the new West Kowloon Station which will facilitate the new rail link. The route it is rumored to begin service on Sep 23.
The new route operates between Beijing West Train Station and Guangzhou, taking eight hours in total. From there, passengers must alight and take a 48-minute ride on the new 26km Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong track, terminating at the new West Kowloon Station.
Though this new train route may take triple the amount of time it takes to fly to the special administrative region, it should be slightly cheaper given rumoured RMB 1,000 one-way tickets. The trains should also be unencumbered by the usual delays travelers encounter when departing from Beijing Capital International Airport on account of weather, smog, or the military’s interference in departure times.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) immigration officers will carry out entry supervision upon arrival in Hong Kong for all mainland and foreign passengers, while mainland immigration officers will carry out exit supervision for those passengers departing Hong Kong, which will take place before boarding the train. Passengers can use cash, credit card, and Hong Kong’s local Octopus transport card to pay for the ride as well as a number of other cashless systems.
The highly anticipated link, which was originally scheduled for a 2012 opening, was delayed for a number of years in part due to the 2011 Wenzhou rail disaster, which hindered high-speed rail construction throughout China. Additionally, the revised opening of 2015 was further delayed by major flooding of the still-unfinished railway tunnels in 2014, damaging boring machines used for the project. The project has also come under scrutiny by the Hong Kong publicfor allowing mainland officers almost full jurisdiction inside relevant parts of the station through the assertion of mainland laws.