18 Aug 2017
Enormous Benefits of Express Rail Link Conducive to the Long-term Development of Hong Kong
When the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (“XRL”) begins to run in the third quarter of 2018, it will connect with the 25,000-km National high-speed Railway Network. The Hong Kong SAR government has released the implementation of co-location of customs, immigration and quarantine (“CIQ”) facilities (“co-location arrangements”) in Kowloon West Station, which makes preparation for the operation of XRL in one year and marks the countdown of the High-speed Rail era in Hong Kong. For Hong Kong, the operation of Express Rail not only means another option of travel for the public. More importantly, it is a strategic project with comprehensive benefits of economy, society, culture and geographical advantages, which is worthy of in-depth analysis and interpretation.
I. Enormous direct economic benefits
It should be noted that the construction of an Express Rail linked to the Mainland is a result of the proactivity of the Hong Kong SAR government. The Hong Kong section of the Express Rail originated from the concept of “Regional Express” proposed by the SAR Government in the late 90s of last century. It was mainly used to link the Kowloon urban area and the boundary. The Hong Kong Transport and Housing Bureau issued the ‘Railway Development Strategy 2000’ in May 2000, proposing six new rail corridors, which included a Regional Express Line (REL) between the Boundary and Hung Hom. In 2001, the Hong Kong SAR government began to discuss with the Shenzhen government as well as the Ministry of Railways (China) the possibility of constructing a regional express rail with magnetic levitation technology. In January 2002, interested parties reached a consensus on the design and coordination of the regional express rail. The central government subsequently set up a project for it and formally named it The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. Following two years of in-depth discussion and repeated comparison and the State Council’s approval of the first "Mid-long Term Railway Network Plan" in early 2004 proposing the construction of the four vertical and four horizontal passenger lines of over 12,000 km including Hong Kong, parties concerned finally decided to adopt a more mature high-speed wheel rail scheme for the XRL. The first section of the high-speed rail link from Guangzhou (South) to Shenzhen (North) began construction in December 2005 and was officially opened at the end of 2011. The second section from Shenzhen (North) to Futian also ran smoothly in 2015.
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