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The identikit apartment blocks and mousybrown fields were as unremarkable as the pale scrubland. It should have made for an unremarkable entry into China’s Guangdong province. Except it wasn’t. The thrill of being aboard Hong Kong’s first bullet train, the Vibrant Express, was all about speed, not scenery.
Aerodynamic, gleaming white and polished to perfection, the pointy-nosed train had departed Hong Kong’s brand new West Kowloon station, one of the world’s largest (partly) subterranean stations, on time. Just 48 minutes later, we glided, quietly and smoothly into Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, and China’s third-largest city, home to 14 million people.
Information boards in the station claimed that the Vibrant Express is the latest of 5,000 high-speed trains that operate daily across China, part of the country’s record-breaking multi-billiondollar expansion of high-speed rail.
Awestruck, and making unfavourable comparisons with the UK’s doddering rail network, I had lingered in Hong Kong’s newest station before setting off. First, I queued to dine at a branch of Tim Ho Wan, Hong Kong’s most affordable