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Hong Kong high-speed rail

Shenzhen Communist Party leaders get early look at Hong Kong high-speed trains with ride to meet Carrie Lam at West Kowloon

Shenzhen party secretary Wang Weizhong meets Hong Kong leader as part of preparations for opening of HK$84.4 billion cross-border link

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2018, 4:40pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2018, 11:27pm

Communist Party leaders from Hong Kong’s mainland neighbour Shenzhen have been given an exclusive early look at the new high-speed rail line linking the two cities.

They rode a train to meet Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Wednesday on an inspection trip of the HK$84.4 billion (US$10.8 billion) cross-border project, the Post has learned.

Wang Weizhong, Shenzhen’s party secretary, and top aides took a specially arranged train to Hong Kong’s West Kowloon terminal and arrived at about 9.45am.

Wang was greeted at the station by Hong Kong leader Lam along with housing and transport chief Frank Chan Fan and senior executives from Hong Kong’s railway operator, the MTR Corporation, a source familiar with the situation said.

The trip was part of final preparations by senior Shenzhen officials for Saturday’s opening ceremony for the 26km line, which runs from Guangdong’s provincial capital Guangzhou all the way to Hong Kong.

The West Kowloon terminal will be closed on Thursday for preparations and trains are set to begin running on Sunday.

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“The whole tour lasted two hours, and involved a close look at shops, restaurants, and the process for passing through Hong Kong and mainland checks,” one source said about Wang’s journey. “They used their own identity documents to pass through the ports, as the laws require.”

The Post has reached out to Lam’s office for comment.

It was understood Wang and his delegation returned to Shenzhen by high-speed train also.

A so-called co-location arrangement for the West Kowloon station means national laws will be applied in a section of the terminal under the control of mainland Chinese officials. The area has been leased to the mainland to accommodate immigration and customs checks.

But the legality of the arrangement has been challenged by opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong and the city’s Bar Association, which argued it breached the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

There will be about 800 mainland officers stationed daily at the station, operating two shifts. The Post earlier revealed that some would carry firearms. Most will return to Shenzhen every day after the closure of rail services at around midnight, but dozens will remain to guard the port area overnight, sources said.

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“There is a doctor on duty as well,” one source added.

For the opening ceremony, a Vibrant Express train owned by the MTR Corp will carry about 500 guests, including the rail giant’s executives, government officials and Hong Kong representatives in China’s national legislature.

The Post has learned that only two members of Hong Kong’s legislature have been invited.

The rail link connects the city with 44 destinations throughout the country via China’s 25,000km high-speed rail network. The Guangzhou-Hong Kong line is expected to carry up to 80,000 passengers a day.