Hong Kong lawmaker alliance proposes ways to optimize high-speed rail service

Hong Kong lawmaker alliance proposes ways to optimize high-speed rail service

PARKER ZHENG CHINA DAILY A Hong Kong lawmaker alliance has proposed various initiatives to optimize the operation of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen high-speed rail service, suggesting that the system is run more like a subway to benefit passengers.

It proposed lowering ticket fares for short-haul trains, lowering the frequency of trains, introducing discounts for regular commuters, launching standing room-only tickets and optimizing the ticket purchasing process.

The alliance, which was formed by four legislators, said the improvements will allow more convenience for frequent cross-border commuters and will further accelerate the integration of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

According to a February survey conducted by the alliance, 640 out of 671 people interviewed expressed support for the group's plans to introduce a metro-style operation to the high-speed rail service.

The high-speed train service resumed on January 15 and has become much busier, as one of the most important transportation modes connecting the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. By the end of February, the average daily number of passengers exceeded 23,000 and reached nearly 40,000 at its peak. The alliance said it expects that number to exceed 50,000 during the May Day holiday.

The alliance suggested a reduction of fares on short-haul trains by 75 percent to give commuters more convenience. It proposed a 10-percent discount for periodic tickets and multirides, which could give frequent commuters a 10 percent discount and save time in purchasing tickets.

The lawmakers want to increase train frequency between Hong Kong and Shenzhen to every 10 to 15 minutes and add more direct trains to Guangzhou East, highlighting the popularity of short-distance trains.

There are currently 14 pairs of trains to Guangzhou South and only six pairs of trains to Guangzhou East, which is located in the downtown area of Guangzhou.

The alliance envisions the launch of standing room-only tickets for trains to Guangzhou and Shenzhen at the same cost as a second-class seat to meet greater demand during holidays.

According to the group's plan, there will be no designated trains or seats for passengers, which means they can board any train from the place of departure to the destination and sit on any seat on the train, just like on the metro system.

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The alliance said that there should be improvements to ticket-buying procedures, including a better situation for passengers using Hong Kong phone numbers to receive verification codes.

If passengers buy high-speed rail tickets at the West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong, they are charged an additional service fee of HK $10 $1.27 to HK $30. The alliance advised against the charge for passengers.