After months of debate and political discord, passengers started boarding high-speed trains at a new station in Hong Kong on Sunday morning.
The first train on the HK$84.4 billion local section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which set off at 7am on Sunday, arrived at Shenzhen North at 7.19am.
The high-speed train G5711 left Shenzhen North Railway Station at 6:44 a.m. for Hong Kong West Kowloon Station, and arrived at the Hong Kong station at 7:03 am.
The carriage is quite spacious and the seats can be adjusted to face front or back, according to Mr. Leung, a Hong Kong citizen who are aboard the train.
“It is quite comfortable. In the future, I would like to go to some places further, like Beijing for example. It takes only a few hours after all”, the 70-year-old man told Xinhuanet.com.
This impressive engineering feat spans the mouth of the Pearl River, linking Hong Kong with the mainland city of Zhuhai and the former Portuguese colony of Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub.
The West Kowloon Station, which opened today, will serve as an underground terminus for an expected 80,100 passengers daily, with the rail link promising to cut the two-hour journey time between Hong Kong and the Chinese city of Guangzhou to a mere 47 minutes.
The 15-track station, with its expressive, sleek white curvature, was designed by international firm Aedas.
Spaces like departure and arrival lounges, short and long-haul platforms, customs and immigration facilities, have been assembled to create a larger void allowing for a more open plan with views of the city’s skyline.
The new high-speed railway will travel at 200 kph (or 120 mph) to 44 destinations in the mainland and is expected to see an estimated 70 to 82 trains pass through Hong Kong’s new West Kowloon station daily.
The government officials say the rail link will boost businesses in Hong Kong, and is critical to economic development and will speed the movement of goods and people through the region, while critics say allowing Chinese authorities to operate on the trains violates Hong Kong’s freedoms. This marks the first time Chinese criminal law will be enforced in Hong Kong territory, according to the news site.
Various emergency response plans have been mapped out to ensure safe operation of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, Chen Xiaomei, a spokesperson with China Railway Guangzhou Group Co. Ltd., said.