Sceptical about the merits of high-speed cross-border rail link

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 September, 2009, 12:00am

In the report ('Light rail link planned to boost spur line', September 21), it was suggested that the planned high-speed rail link between West Kowloon and Shenzhen would be a threat to the existing Lok Ma Chau spur line connection.

I think this line as planned will not pose a threat to any current connections and may prove to be mostly redundant.

According to your report the new link would take passengers in 14 minutes from West Kowloon to Futian , the existing MTR link would take 60 minutes.

This comparison is flawed. For East Rail it includes the time needed for crossing the border and the former only the actual time spent on the train, so we have to add another 15 minutes on each side including walking, waiting and border formalities, for a total of about 44 minutes. So it is only faster if you live closer to West Kowloon station than to any East Rail station.

Furthermore the MTR now charges HK$31.30 for a trip from Hung Hom to Lok Ma Chau. Fares for the new train are promised to be significantly higher. An easy winner for East Rail. And finally, there is competition from the cross-border buses to Shenzhen. A bus from Kowloon to the Lok Ma Chau border takes about 30 minutes for about HK$30 to HK$40. Add another 20 minutes for border crossing formalities and within an hour you are all the way over in Futian for less money than the proposed new train.

Whoever came up with the estimate that tens of thousands of people would switch to the new high-speed link just for trips to Shenzhen must have a great interest in the link being built.

I wish this government would come to its senses and spend its money wisely.

Even subsidising everybody's electricity account makes more sense than this and would benefit more people.

A high-speed rail link just for the sake of having high-speed rail in a tiny place like Hong Kong is not good enough.

Wouter van Marle, Tai Po