Lee Chun-yin felt that his work became much easier compared with one year ago.
Working in the training industry, the 52-year-old man in China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region needs to make three to five trips a month to the mainland. “Thanks to the express train, my travel time is shortened and the journey is more comfortable,” he said.
He was referring to the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), the Hong Kong section of which opened on Sept. 23 last year, linking Hong Kong directly to dozens of destinations in the mainland.
Monday marks the one year anniversary of the Hong Kong session’s opening to public.
Before XRL was in operation, Lee had to take metro before changing to the bus. “When I arrived at the port, I had to carry my luggage back and forth,” he recalled. “With the high-speed train, however, I was saved from all the troubles. And it is very fast.”
A trip from Hong Kong to Xiamen in east China’s Fujian province only takes four and a half hours, while in the past it would cost him six or seven hours. The travel time to Beijing, which used to exceed 24 hours, is about nine hours now.
“People in Hong Kong have become used to and fond of the new way of travelling to the mainland,” said Cheris Lee, chief of operating-high speed rail and intercity of MTR corporation.
China is home to some 29,000 km of high-speed railways, accounting for more than two thirds of the world’s total.
“In Hong Kong, although high-speed trains only run a stretch of 26 kilometers, it is a milestone that we could be connected with the mainland,” said Cheris Lee. “People here do not have to transfer in Shenzhen or Guangzhou before reaching other cities.”
She told Xinhua that XRL sees about 45,000 passengers a day on the weekdays, while at the weekends the number stands at 62,000. On special occasions such as the Spring Festival it could carry as many as 100,000 passengers on the busiest day.
At the railway station on Monday, a man surnamed Cheng was using the machine to buy tickets to Xiamen. After he retired, the 65-year-old man liked travelling in the mainland.
“The airports are mostly located on the outskirts, and you need to get there two hours before boarding,” he said. “The XRL is more convenient, which takes you directly to the city center.”
A man surnamed Ge who lives in Shenzhen and comes to Hong Kong every Saturday for MBA studies, said “it is our consensus with the Hong Kong students that XRL benefit all of us, so that we could have more exchanges. Hopefully this could help Hong Kong and the mainland get to know each other better.”
Due to the continued violent protests in Hong Kong, the railway station is apparently less busy than before.
The passengers Xinhua interviewed shared the view that hopefully peace could be restored soon.
“With the XRL, I hope that people from both sides could visit each other more frequently, so as to eliminate misunderstanding,” said Lee Chun-yin’s companion.