Passengers enter Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station as cross-boundary high-speed rail services linking the SAR and the Chinese mainland resumed on Jan 15, 2023. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)
Hong Kong passengers boarding the high-speed rail to the mainland on Sunday expressed joy and excitement on the resumption of the service after the three-year hiatus, saying the smooth ride provides convenience for their cross-boundary tours.
Hong Kong and the mainland resumed high-speed train services on Sunday, with the number of tickets each way capped at 5,000 per day, which is in addition to the 60,000 daily quota currently set for HK residents traveling to the mainland. Compared to land ports travelers, passengers of high-speed train do not need prior booking for clearance procedures.
The quota for Hong Kong residents traveling to the mainland via three land ports in use will be increased from 50,000 to 65,000 from Jan 18 to 21 – Lunar New Year's eve – the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said on Saturday
Lee Chun-leung, a Hong Kong undergraduate student at Shanghai Normal University, opted for the high-speed train on Sunday to return to Guangzhou to spend the Lunar New Year with his family. Lee came to Hong Kong last month for an internship.
He said many Hong Kong students like him are enjoying the lifestyle in the mainland, and the high-speed rail will make it easier for them to travel between the two places.
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Lee added that border reopening helped Hong Kong students studying in the mainland avoid the cost of quarantine hotels, and that high-speed rail, as one of the most convenient means of transportation, also saved them the time and cost of travelling back and forth.
Yao Min and Li Jiewei, employees of the same company, arrived in Hong Kong for a business event on Saturday. The pair, graduate of the University of Hong Kong, said they had not been back to Hong Kong for about three years and were happy to meet their friends again.
The reopening of the high-speed rail also provides convenience for people like Yao and Li to travel between the two places for business activities.
After welcoming the first batch of passengers to Hong Kong at the West Kowloon Station, Lam Sai-hung, secretary for transport and logistics, told the media that the flow to Guangzhou was relatively tight at present and the authorities would check whether there was room for additional trains depending on the situation after the resumption of train services.
ALSO READ: HK, mainland to restart high-speed rail on Sunday
The quota for Hong Kong residents traveling to the mainland via three land ports in use will be increased from 50,000 to 65,000 from Jan 18 to 21 – Lunar New Year's eve – the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said on Saturday.
Lam said with the resumption of high-speed rail service, the number of residents crossing border through various ports could increase to more than 80,000 from Jan 18 to 21.
The city's rail operator MTR's Hong Kong Transport Services Director Jeny Yeung Mei-chun also took the first train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou East Station. The train arrived at the station four to five minutes earlier than its original schedule.
Calling it a historic moment for including Guangzhou East as one of the destinations for high-speed trains from Hong Kong, Yeung was excited about the restart of the service and the process along the way was quite smooth.
READ MORE: HK-mainland daily travel quota to go up by 15,000 each way
Yeung said the MTR will continue to monitor the sales of the tickets and coordinate with relevant parties to see if it can be increased gradually.
Hong Kong lawmaker Edward Leung told the media at the West Kowloon Station that the overall border-crossing experience through the high-speed rail was smooth and reminded residents to allow half an hour before boarding to complete the health declaration process.