Hong Kong mulls short-haul rail service with mainland

Hong Kong mulls short-haul rail service with mainland

Passengers enter Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station as high-speed rail services linking the HKSAR and the Chinese mainland resumed on January 15, 2023. CALVIN NG CHINA DAILY A task force was set up to examine the feasibility of introducing a metro-style short-haul high-speed rail service between Hong Kong and the mainland, which will give passengers the ability to choose trains traveling to or from a mainland destination on any given day, Hong Kong s transportation chief said on Wednesday.

The authorities are discussing other arrangements such as monthly passes and standee tickets to improve the flexibility of service on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, said Lam Sai-hung, secretary for transport and logistics in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

During a Q&A session at the Legislative Council, Lam said that MTR Corp Ltd, which operates the Hong Kong section of the high-speed rail link, has set up a task force with mainland railway authorities to discuss the metroization of short-haul services. He was responding to questions raised by the lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sunTien Puk-sun about the potential optimization of high-speed railway services.

Lam said MTR will be looking at introducing different ticket types, such as monthly passes, to attract those who use the bullet train to travel between Hong Kong and the mainland.

Tien asked whether standee tickets for short-haul high-speed trains would be made available at the LegCo meeting, as is common practice in mainland cities such as Shanghai, Wuxi and Suzhou.

The safety of railway operations and passengers was always the top priority, and the introduction of standee tickets would depend on the types and designs of trains and the regulations on railway operations in the mainland and Hong Kong. MTR will continue to work with its mainland counterparts to improve the service, Lam said.

READ MORE: Residents want more online rail tickets, better arrangements.

The introduction of e-tickets, which allow passengers to pass through the gates faster, has been a priority for MTR since the resumption of high-speed train services in mid-January.

Since Jan 15, 2023, the Hong Kong section of the rail link has been progressively resumed after being suspended for three years due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Three new destinations have been introduced since January 15 and five new destinations will be introduced from April 1 onwards, compared to the services before the pandemic. The Hong Kong West Kowloon Station will be connected directly to 66 destinations, including 10 short-haul destinations.

From April 1, the daily frequency of high-speed trains between Hong Kong and the mainland will increase from the current 102 trips to 164 trips per day, marking a return to pre-pandemic levels, according to Lam.