Dozens line up for tickets on Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link
Operator says demand exceeds supply as journalists demand they be allowed to leave station after registering for inaugural trains
Dozens of early birds, mainly reporters, started queuing in Hong Kong on Saturday at dawn after the MTR Corporation announced tickets for the new high-speed railway would go on sale next Monday.
Members of the local media lined up at Austin MTR station in Kowloon for a chance to ride the inaugural train of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link as soon as the MTR Corp revealed the starting date on Friday afternoon. But they were forced to leave at night due to the station’s closure.
By Saturday morning, however, they returned by the dozens, alongside others from the public, prepared to camp on site until 8am Monday when counters at the West Kowloon terminus are slated to start selling tickets.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association and Hong Kong News Executives’ Association met with the MTR Corp on Saturday morning, demanding the railway company allow journalists to leave the station after registering for tickets.
A source familiar with the matter said there were only about 250 tickets for the debuting train, called Vibrant Express, for sale in Hong Kong; the other 250 or so had been allocated on the mainland. Media demand exceeded the Hong Kong portion, the source added.
Journalists Association chairman Chris Yeung Kin-hing noted the MTR Corp sought to be fair to the public and media given the limited ticket availability.
“Journalists have a lot of daily assignments and having them line up for three days consecutively is causing huge technical and operational difficulties,” Yeung said.
The MTR Corp later allowed the press to leave the station and return on Monday. But the public still need to queue continuously until tickets go on sale.
Johnny Leung Shing, 70, was the first non-media person in line, arriving at 6am on Saturday.
“I came here for breakfast and saw the line, so I started queuing,” he said. Leung planned to travel with his family on the first train to Shenzhen North station. “Taking the coach is more convenient, but I want to experience the high-speed railway.”
The retired civil servant quipped that the new railway would allow people “to find a lover more easily.”
The 26km, HK$84.4 billion (US$10.8 billion) Hong Kong section of the rail link will start running on September 23 after three years of delays and exceeding its original budget by a third.
The first train from West Kowloon departs at 7am for Shenzhen North, followed by one to Chaoshan at 7.23am. The inaugural train to Guangzhou South is due to leave at 8.30am.
Tickets will also be sold by telephone at + 852 2120 0888, and via the MTR’s website from noon Monday. Inquiries can be directed to +852 2106 3888.
In addition, tickets will be available through state-owned China Railway Corporation’s official 12306.cn platform, or through its app, but only for users with mainland phone numbers.
The rail line will serve 44 destinations directly and connects to the country’s 25,000km rail network.