HK, mainland to restart high-speed rail on Sunday
A total of 10,000 daily tickets for high-speed trains between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong went on sale at noon on Thursday, with tickets for days in the run-up to the Chinese New Year quickly snapped up hours after.
Hong Kong and the mainland will resume their high-speed train services on Sunday, with tickets each way capped at 5,000 per day.
The number of high-speed train tickets is in addition to the 60,000 daily quota currently set for HK residents traveling to the mainland.
Passengers in Hong Kong can purchase high-speed train tickets to stations in Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou, all in Guangdong province, via the 12306 website and mobile application — the national railway ticketing system — or from designated travel agencies, the MTR, the city's high-speed railway operator, announced on Thursday.
China Railway Guangzhou Group said that it will arrange an average of 38.5 pairs of high-speed trains every day running from stations in Guangzhou and Shenzhen to Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station.
Initially, West Kowloon Station will provide trains to Shenzhen's Futian, Shenzhen North and Guangzhou South and Guangzhou East stations.
In a news briefing on Thursday morning, Secretary for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung said that the resumption of the high-speed rail service is attractive to travelers because it has been suspended for three years due to the pandemic, and that there are already many attractions near West Kowloon terminus, such as M and the Hong Kong Palace Museum.
No prior bookings for checkpoint services are required for passengers boarding high-speed trains departing from or entering the city, Lam added. The West Kowloon Station checkpoint will operate from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm every day, as it did before closing due to the pandemic.
High-speed train tickets will be sold on a real-name basis and passengers can board trains with their identification documents. Cross-border train passengers are required to produce a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test taken within 48 hours of traveling across the border.
The MTR said passengers boarding the trains should wear a mask throughout the journey, and that alcohol-based hand rubs and sprays are not permitted on trains.
More cross-border traffic is gradually returning to normal. Ferry services between Hong Kong and Zhuhai Jiuzhou Port will resume from Sunday, with a 66-percent discount on the first day, according to Zhuhai Jiuzhou Harbor Passenger Transport Services.
The company will have four ferry trips between Zhuhai Jiuzhou Port and Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal between Jan 15 to 21, the eve of Chinese New Year. It will be extended to seven ferry trips on Jan 22, with four more ferries between the port and China Ferry Terminal in Hong Kong.
No prior booking is necessary for the ferry services, according to the company's spokesperson.
Asked when cross-boundary bus services will resume, Lam said that the government would first need to consult with relevant mainland authorities after reviewing the resumption of high-speed rail services, adding that there was no timetable for resuming those bus services at present.
On Jan 8, Hong Kong reopened four checkpoints connecting with the mainland. In the initial stage, 60,000 people are allowed to travel each way between Hong Kong and the mainland through the checkpoints in operation every day.
They are not subject to quarantine measures, but they must provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours prior to traveling. They also need to have made a prior booking through designated websites if they opt to pass through the three land ports.
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