Hong Kong MTR

50 minutes to Guangzhou: new express rail station debuts in Shenzhen cutting travel time by 35 minutes

First-day passengers praise journey that at times exceeded 300km per hour

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 December, 2015, 4:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 December, 2015, 11:48am

The largest underground railway station in Asia is up and running now, helping to cut the travel time in half from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and putting more pressure on Hongkongers to speed up the construction work for the rail link’s Hong Kong segment.

The Futian railway station, located in Shenzhen’s central business district, has commenced operations yesterday, with 11 Guangzhou bound departures every day at the initial stage.

A train, which departed from the Shenzhen station at 9.21am sharp and travelled at a speed of between 250 to 290km per hour, with portions of the journey briefly exceeding 300km per hour, arrived at Guangzhou South at 10.13 am.

READ MORE: A trip back in time: when a one-hour ride to Guangzhou seemed a world away

It stopped at stations in Shenzhen North and Humen for a few minutes, taking about 50 minutes for the full journey, as scheduled.

Travel by train between Shenzhen and Guangzhou via other routes could take up to 35 minutes more.

With the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, after its Hong Kong section is completed, the journey time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou will be reduced from about 100 minutes as at present to 48 minutes, excluding the waiting time.

A family of three from Shenzhen, patronising the Futian station on its first day of service, said it was impressed by the intercity network’s speed and convenience.

Emily Chen, accompanied by husband Gary Shek and their two-year-old daughter Sophie, said she hoped the Hong Kong section would open soon: “So that we don’t have to change trains in Sha Tin when we visit the major shopping areas in Hong Kong in future.”

Linch Luo, from Sichuan, said he rode the high-speed rail line about two or three times a month.

I will ride the express train bound for Hong Kong when the service starts
Linch Luo

“The express rail system is better than buses in terms of punctuality,” he said.

“Its fares are reasonable,” he added, referring to the charges ranging from 82 to 108 yuan.

He said he was disappointed that the construction work for the rail line’s Hong Kong section had lagged behind that of its mainland counterparts.

“I will ride the express train bound for Hong Kong when the service starts,” Luo said.

But not everyone is excited about the intercity rail network. Andy Ngai and Terence Yeung, residents of the New Territories who worked in Guangzhou, said they might not use the West Kowloon station – the rail line’s Hong Kong stop under construction – when it was in operation.

“The terminus is too distant from our homes,” said Ngai, adding that he was put off by the Futian station’s service.

“I saw oil streaks on the escalators and on the floors in the waiting area, which could be dangerous,” he said.