Hong Kong considers measures to enhance utilisation of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link

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10th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) In today’s Legislative Council session, Dr the Hon Dennis Lam raised concerns about the utilization of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) and its capacity during major festivals. Acting Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Liu Chun-san, provided a detailed response, addressing the annual carrying capacity, special arrangements during festivals, and the possibility of implementing a collaborative inspection and joint clearance mode at the West Kowloon Immigration Control Point.

Regarding the XRL’s carrying capacity, Mr Liu Chun-san highlighted that the XRL Hong Kong Section is an integral part of the national high-speed rail network, spanning over 40,000 kilometres. It plays a crucial role in connecting the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and solidifying Hong Kong’s position as a regional transport hub. In 2023, the XRL Hong Kong Section expanded its service with additional destinations, both short-haul and long-haul, offering a more comprehensive network. The daily train service frequency increased from 166 to 188 train trips, providing passengers with more frequent service options.

In response to the question about capacity during major festivals, Mr Liu Chun-san stated that during the Labour Day, summer, National Day, Christmas, New Year, and Lunar New Year holidays in 2023 and 2024, the West Kowloon Control Point witnessed a significant increase in passenger traffic. Daily average passenger trips exceeded 100,000 during these periods. In 2023, the total yearly passenger traffic at the West Kowloon Control Point reached a record high of around 19.65 million passenger trips. Additionally, the daily patronage set a new record of over 120,000 passenger trips on 23rd December, 2023. In the first two months of 2024, approximately 4.42 million passenger trips were recorded at the West Kowloon Control Point.

Regarding improving services during festivals, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) maintain close communication with Mainland authorities to monitor passenger demand and travel patterns. The MTRCL discusses train service arrangements in advance to meet the needs of passengers during festive seasons. For example, during the Easter and Ching Ming festival holidays, the train service between West Kowloon Station (WEK) and Futian Station was enhanced with over 120 train trips per day. The HKSAR Government will continue to communicate with Mainland authorities to explore measures to further enhance the XRL Hong Kong Section’s services based on actual circumstances.

Regarding the implementation of the “collaborative inspection and joint clearance” mode, the HKSAR Government actively explores adopting new clearance modes for future boundary control points. However, changing the clearance mode of existing control points, including the one at HSR WEK commissioned in 2018, is a complex process that requires careful planning to ensure minimal disruption to operations. The HKSAR Government will work closely with Mainland authorities to consider different measures to enhance the XRL Hong Kong Section’s services, taking into account port design, boundary arrangements, facilities layout, passenger flow, and other relevant factors.