Hundreds of protesters opposed to the express rail link to Guangzhou staged a sit-in outside Government House last night after earlier clashing with police near the Legislative Council building. All traffic was blocked as the 1,000-strong crowd gathered in Upper Albert Road shouted 'stop rail funding' and demanded that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen come out to face them. Police appeared to have been caught off guard and took no action. The protesters left soon after midnight, with some returning to their base in Chater Garden where they are camping out. They vowed to protest again when the Financial Committee resumed its debate at 9am this morning. Police had been preparing for trouble but had mainly deployed officers around the Legislative Council building, where activists from rival camps on the railway project had converged to stage rallies. The rallies had remained largely peaceful until shortly after activists cheered 'victory' when news emerged that a vote on funding had again been adjourned. Then, without warning, the mood turned ugly as a group of protesters clashed with police as they tried to force their way into the Legco building. They said they wanted to petition the transport minister, Eva Cheng, who is in charge of the HK$66.9 billion project. They were blocked by police who had set up layers of barricades. One protester jabbed a finger and shouted insults at officers. The crowd failed to break the police line and attempts to pull down the barricade were halted. No one was arrested in the 20-minute confrontation and there were no reports of injury. Those opposed to the railway heavily outnumbered those in favour. For most of the day Statue Square outside Legco was submerged in a sea of protesters - mostly the young and students. Some conceded they were fighting a losing battle since funding approval was a foregone conclusion given the support of pro-government lawmakers. Form Six pupil Chris Wong said: 'I know protesting is not of much use but I still want to show those lawmakers who will vote for the project that they are on the wrong side.' Many had crowded Statue Square last week during another Finance Committee meeting, which was also adjourned. Organisers claimed a turnout of 13,000 yesterday. Police put the figure at 3,800. For most of the day, the square echoed with piercing whistles and booming broadcasts as the protesters set up a large screen to watch a webcast of the meeting. A group of 30 or 40 activists took turns to parade around the Legco building, kneeling every 26 steps - to match the 26 kilometres of the railway. A corner of the square had been marked 'site of tragedy' to mock legislators in favour of the scheme, which will force some villagers in the New Territories out of their homes. Supporters of the activists set up booths and tents to provide food and drink. Tension mounted as a supporter in favour of the railway walked into the crowd of protesters and dared them to take part in a debate. The man, in his 50s, said: 'There is only one reason why some legislators do not want to approve the funding - because they do not want to see Hong Kong develop.' He was drowned out by jeers and quickly escorted away by police officers. Six protesters continued their 120-hour hunger strike, which started at 4.30pm on Tuesday. Wong Hin-yan, a musician, said he was a bit tired after eating nothing for three days. Wong and five other hunger strikers went into the Legco chamber in the afternoon to listen to the debate. In Chater Garden, a coalition of about a dozen travel and tourism groups held a pro-railway show to voice the sector's support for the project. The chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents, Michael Wu Siu-ieng, said: 'The high-speed railway can link Hong Kong with the Chinese express rail network. It can attract more mainland tourists to Hong Kong, and thus boost economic development.' Several legislators turned up in support, including Miriam Lau Kin-yee and Tommy Cheung Yu-yan of the Liberal Party and Professor Patrick Lau Sau-shing of Professional Forum. Miriam Lau said: 'Hong Kong will not be an effective gateway to China anymore if Hong Kong does not have a high-speed railway to link with the national network.' Her speech was greeted with loud applause by the 200-strong crowd. Another group in favour - the Pro-High Speed Rail Front - also staged a rally in Chater Garden last night.