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Hong Kong high-speed rail

Don’t let Hong Kong high-speed rail ticketing issues become another PR disaster for MTR

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 September, 2018, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 September, 2018, 5:02pm

Tickets for Hong Kong’s express rail link to the mainland went on sale on September 10 and, as a fan of the railways, I wanted to experience a ride on the high-speed trains on the very first day. With that aim, I tried to make an online purchase for a September 23 ticket through MTR services.

I downloaded MTR’s high-speed rail app on my mobile phone, only to find that it did not provide ticket-vending services. You may only check fares and schedules on the app. Without the ticket-selling function, the app’s utility is greatly diminished.

So I turned to my laptop to buy a ticket via the MTR website. I successfully chose the train number and then put in my personal ID details, as required. However, in the last stage of the process, when I tried to use my credit card to pay, the system told me that my card, which I had used countless times to make online payments, could not pass the verification stage. I tried four times, only to fail each time. Then the system informed me I had failed to make this purchase.

Hong Kong’s high-speed railway: all you need to know

Hard to get on high-speed trains to China without timetable

Not easily daunted, I tried all over again – selecting the train number and inputting ID details. But this time, the system told me I couldn’t buy a ticket for September 23 because I had already bought one! The fact was I had not been successful in the purchase and did not receive any notification of having bought a ticket in the first place!

Eventually, I had to give up the idea of buying through the MTR, and instead used my mainland ticket-buying app to buy a ride from Shenzhen’s Futian Station to West Kowloon. The process took me less than 10 seconds!

Ticket sales for Hong Kong high-speed railway off to bumpy start

I understand there are bound to be teething problems during the initial stages of the express rail link’s operation. In any case, this is the first time that the MTR is running a real-name, long-distance ticketing service. But the MTR had better resolve those problems as soon as possible, unless it wants to face yet another PR crisis.

Ma Chao, Sha Tin