Why Hong Kong’s new rail link to mainland China may help save time even if flying is faster
Your report on August 26 on the high-speed rail link, titled “New rail line can’t beat plane for speed”, is far from fair.
People make travel decisions based on the total travel time, which they weigh against cost. The table in your article just showed the “in-vehicle time”. A traveller is likely to consider the total time a journey takes, which includes time from home to airport (versus time to West Kowloon Terminus), time for check-in, time for the customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) formalities (in both point-of-origin and destination terminals), in-vehicle time (on plane or on train), and then the journey from the airport (or railway station) to the final destination.
Airlines typically expect passengers to arrive at the airport an hour-and-a-half to two hours before departure, and to be at the gate at least half an hour before departure.
While the speed of the train may be less than that of an aircraft, train travel offers time savings on the overall journey due to the more downtown location of the West Kowloon Terminus, the expected faster check-in, security and CIQ in Hong Kong, the shorter waiting time, and the savings in CIQ time at the destination city. This does not include the possible delay in flight departures and taxiing, which is common in airports in mainland China.
Studies have shown that the best range for the high-speed rail is between 300km (under which the time savings in comparison to conventional modes is not significant) and 1,000km (above which it is better to fly). That effectively suggests a good market for rail link destinations south of the Yangtze River.
Dennis Li, Mid-Levels