HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong on Saturday opened a new high-speed rail link to inland China that will vastly decrease travel times but also raises concerns about Beijing’s creeping influence over the semi-autonomous Chinese region.
Costing upward of $10 billion and taking more than eight years to build, the system aims to transport more than 80,000 passengers daily between the Asian financial center of 7 million people and the neighboring manufacturing hub of Guangdong province.
The train travels the 26 kilometers (16 miles) through Hong Kong to Shenzhen across the border in China in just 14 minutes, down from about 1 hour currently. The through-train to Guangdong’s capital Guangzhou will take just over half an hour, about 90 minutes faster than current service.
Once across the border, passengers can link up with Chinese sprawling nationwide high-speed rail network serving more than 44 destinations, including Shanghai, Beijing and the western city of Xi’an.
Passengers will clear Chinese immigration at the line’s newly built West Kowloon terminus, the source of major legal controversy when it was revealed that mainland Chinese law would apply within roughly one-quarter of the station’s area.
A sign reading China Immigration Inspection is displayed on the ground in the Mainland Port Area at West Kowloon Station, which houses the terminal for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) in Hong Kong, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. (Giulia Marchi/Pool Photo via AP)