HK rail link ‘to pro­vide many ben­e­fits’

Lam says it will bring spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion and Chi­nese main­land closer and boost co­op­er­a­tion

China Daily European Weekly - - China News - By LUIS LIU luis­liu@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The launch of the Hong Kong sec­tion of the Guangzhou-Shen­zhen-Hong Kong Ex­press Rail Link will lift the de­vel­op­ment of Hong Kong in var­i­ous ar­eas and link up the Guang­dong-Hong Kong-Ma­cao Greater Bay Area, said Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet­ngor, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion.

She voiced her ex­pec­ta­tions about the 26-kilo­me­ter rail project, which con­nects Hong Kong to the coun­try’s 25,000-km high-speed rail net­work, in a re­cent me­dia ses­sion at Hong Kong’s gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters.

The sig­nif­i­cance of the high-speed rail takes many forms, since it brings greater con­ve­nience for trav­el­ers, Lam said. It also brings Hong Kong and the Chi­nese main­land closer and short­ens the emo­tional dis­tance be­tween the peo­ple of both places.

Lam said there will be far more ex­changes and co­op­er­a­tion in all re­spects with the launch of the high­speed train.

The rail link will ben­e­fit var­i­ous sec­tors in Hong Kong, Lam said. For busi­ness­peo­ple, trips to the main­land will be much faster and more con­ve­nient. Those who have fac­to­ries to man­age or busi­nesses to take care of will save a lot of time trav­el­ing be­tween Hong Kong and their des­ti­na­tions, she added.

For tourists, the high-speed rail will largely im­prove the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence of their jour­neys, she said.

More­over, the rail link of­fers Hong Kong’s young peo­ple eas­ier ac­cess to pur­su­ing ca­reers, study­ing and liv­ing on the main­land, Lam said.

Di­rect trains will go from the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial cen­ter to 44 main­land cities at speeds up to 310 km/h. Thirty-four of those cities are less than five hours away, in­clud­ing pro­vin­cial cap­i­tals such as Wuhan, Chang­sha and Nan­chang, and fa­mous tourism hubs like Xi­a­men, Guilin and Shan­tou.

More than 90 per­cent of the di­rect eco­nomic ben­e­fits of the Hong Kong sec­tion of the rail­way will come from cost sav­ings re­sult­ing from shorter com­mute times, ac­cord­ing to the Transport and Hous­ing Bureau of Hong Kong.

The bureau es­ti­mated that dur­ing 50 years of op­er­a­tion, the Hong Kong sec­tion could save pas­sen­gers around 39 mil­lion hours of travel time per year on av­er­age, a sav­ing of around HK$88 bil­lion ($11.3 bil­lion; 9.6 bil­lion euros; £8.6 bil­lion).

Mean­while, Lam said con­nec­tiv­ity is the key to the pros­per­ity of the Greater Bay Area, which as­pires to be­come a world-class city clus­ter. The trans­porta­tion in­fras­truc­ture project will boost the con­nec­tiv­ity of the en­tire Greater Bay Area, Lam added.

Last year, the to­tal gross do­mes­tic prod­uct con­trib­uted by all 11 cities in the Greater Bay Area stood at 11.7 tril­lion yuan ($1.7 tril­lion).

That that is equiv­a­lent to more than 14 per­cent of China’s GDP in 2017.

Lam said the rail link will be a ma­jor boost for Hong Kong’s fu­ture in­te­gra­tion ef­forts.

In his re­port to the 19th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China in Oc­to­ber, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Xi Jin­ping, also China’s pres­i­dent, voiced the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Hong Kong’s in­te­gra­tion with na­tional de­vel­op­ment.

With a col­lec­tive ef­fect from a series of other cross-border in­fras­truc­ture projects that are kick­ing in, in­clud­ing the Hong Kong- ZhuhaiMa­cao Bridge, the third run­way of Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port and the Liantang/ He­ung Yuen Wai Bound­ary Con­trol Point, Hong Kong will bet­ter con­nect with the Greater Bay Area and sup­port the area’s de­vel­op­ment by op­ti­miz­ing the flow of tal­ent, goods and in­for­ma­tion, Lam said.

This marks the first time that a part of a rail line in China’s high­speed rail sys­tem is op­er­ated un­der a con­ces­sion ap­proach, in which the Hong Kong SAR gov­ern­ment owns re­lated prop­er­ties and Hong Kong’s sole rail­way op­er­a­tor, Mass Tran­sit Rail­way Corp, op­er­ates the rail ser­vice.

Co­op­er­a­tion among the Hong Kong SAR gov­ern­ment, the MTR and China Rail­way Corp will not be a prob­lem, since the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment has inked two de­tailed co­op­er­a­tion ar­range­ments with the other two par­ties, Lam said.

In the Hong Kong gov­ern­men­tCRC doc­u­ment, the two sides de­tail the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and rights un­der all ex­pected sce­nar­ios. It also guar­an­tees an emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tion mech­a­nism to cope with any un­ex­pected sit­u­a­tions, Lam said.

The agree­ment with the MTR nailed down the fi­nan­cial and su­per­vi­sion ar­range­ment so that the sit­u­a­tion will be un­der con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tion will be seam­less and fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are clear, Lam said, adding that the pub­lic there­fore should not worry about the rail op­er­a­tion.

XINHUA

An at­ten­dant helps an el­derly pas­sen­ger get off the high-speed train in Hong Kong.

Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor

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