HIGH-speed services resumed on the line connecting Hong Kong with mainland China on January 15 following a gap of nearly three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Operation was suspended on January 31 2020 and MTR chairman, Dr Rex Auyeung, says resumption of services marks an important milestone in both the Hong Kong government’s policy for gradual boundary reopening and the return to normality in Hong Kong.

The 26km high-speed line, which opened in September 2018, runs from West Kowloon to Shenzhen North and Guangzhou South stations. MTR operates Vibrant Express shuttle services from Kowloon, reaching Shenzhen in 19 minutes and Guangzhou in 48 minutes. The Kowloon terminus was also served by 13 long-distance trains to destinations across mainland China before the pandemic.

In the initial stage of service resumption, MTR is operating 39 northbound and 38 southbound shuttle services daily between Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The service has been enhanced with the addition of three new stops at Dongguannan, Dongguan and Guangzhoudong, with 12 trains currently operating between Hong Kong and Guangzhoudong. MTR says Guangzhoudong, located in the Tianhe commercial district, is an important destination and its addition to the network will improve connectivity in the Greater Bay Area.

China Railway long distance trains to destinations such as Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan are yet to resume.

Ticketing systems have also been upgraded significantly at West Kowloon with 12 gates and six e-counters added to the station’s original 76 gates. E-tickets have replaced paper tickets with these linked to travel documentation, enabling passengers to pass through gates and board trains with just their travel document, replicating the system used across the Chinese high-speed network. Passengers must wear face masks on trains and provide proof of a negative PCR test before travel.

“During the pandemic, the HSR team has always remained steadfast, making their best efforts towards enhancing facility and service, along with the application of smart mobility,” Auyeung says. “We look forward to providing our cross-boundary passengers with a refreshing, efficient and comfortable travelling experience.”

Tung Chung Line extension

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government has approved the Tung Chung Line extension project. The project will extend the Tung Chung metro line by 1.3km west to a new terminus at Tung Chung West. The project includes the construction of an intermediate station at Tung Chung East reclamation area, east of Tung Chung station. Work will involve diverting 1.2km of track at Tung Chung East.

Work on the project is expected to commence this year and completion is scheduled for 2029.

“The Tung Chung Line extension will cater for the new town development in the Tung Chung East new reclamation area and Tung Chung West, enhancing the connectivity of Lantau North and supporting the long-term, sustainable growth in population and employment opportunities in the area,” says Dr Jacob Kam, MTR CEO.

For detailed data on metro projects in Asia and around the world, subscribe to IRJ Pro.