Carrie Lam

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam shows upgraded ticket machines at mainland railway station in Facebook video

Automation, which will enable Hongkongers to avoid long collection queues, is part of wider plan by central government on equal privileges

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 2:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 3:07pm

In a Facebook video posted on Wednesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor demonstrated the use of new machines that can scan the travel permits of the city’s residents at railway stations in mainland China, making ticketing procedures more convenient.

The automation is part of a wider plan by the central government on equal benefits for Hongkongers.

Earlier this month, the official ­Xinhua news agency had issued a report to announce that Beijing is planning to offer Hongkongers the same privileges as their mainland counterparts when studying, working or living across the border.

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The report coincided with calls by President Xi Jinping in July to make it “more ­convenient” for Hongkongers to “study, work and live on the mainland” so that the city could take advantage of national development opportunities.

In the past, only mainland passengers could avoid the hassle of having to queue up to collect their tickets at stations – they could purchase e-tickets online or board trains with their personal identification cards.

As of end June this year, 215 train stations in five provinces and the cities of Beijing and Shanghai have received upgrades on their machines, enabling Hong Kong travellers to buy tickets by scanning their home return permits and avoid long collection queues.

Lam, who visited Tianjin and Beijing from August 26 to 28, posted the video of her travelling to the Chinese capital.

Speaking in front of a ticketing machine with the upgraded function at Beijing South station, she says in the video: “The president had said that he will ask the central government authorities and departments to roll out concrete measures to offer convenience for the people of Hong Kong. Today I will introduce one of the measures to you.”

Lam then asks a staff member from the Hong Kong government’s Beijing office to buy a train ticket to Tianjin using his home return permit.

“It’s very convenient. On behalf of Hong Kong people, I would like to thank China Railway for offering this feature,” she says, adding that the company had promised to install more of the machines across the country.

On Thursday Irons Sze Wing-wai, a Hong Kong delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top advisory body, told the Post that there have been requests to upgrade the ticketing machines for some time.

“I hope it can be expanded to all train stations on the mainland ... I used to book my ticket online, arrive at a train station 45 minutes in advance, and still almost miss my train because there was such a long queue at the ticketing office,” he recalled.

Sze also said the measure will make the high-speed train an even more attractive mode of intercity transport than air travel, noting that train journeys were less likely to be delayed, and passengers could use their mobile phones and electronic devices in a more spacious cabin.