The opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) was held Saturday at Hong Kong West Kowloon Station, one day ahead of the official operation of the first high-speed train from Hong Kong to the mainland.
The opening of the XRL marks Hong Kong's official connection with the national high-speed railway network, Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), said at the opening ceremony.
On the B1 Level of the station, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Tung Chee-hwa, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Leung Chun-ying, Governor of Guangdong province Ma Xingrui, Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Zhang Xiaoming, Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR Wang Zhimin and other officials officiated the opening ceremony.
"Pearl of the Orient" and other songs played by Hong Kong violinist Yao Jue and Hong Kong String Orchestra as well as the video narrating the development of the railway in Guangdong and Hong Kong commenced the opening ceremony.
Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Ma Xingrui, General Manager of China Railway Corporation Lu Dongfu and Chairman of the MTR Corporation Ma Si-hang delivered speeches at the ceremony.
Lam and Ma also unveiled a display embodying the official operation of the West Kowloon Station, the terminal of the cross-border high-speed rail trains between Hong Kong and the mainland.
The XRL tied Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong together, and promoted economic, social and cultural exchanges in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, said Lam.
With the help of Beijing-Guangzhou Passenger Line and the Hangzhou-Fuzhou-Shenzhen Passenger Line, the XRL was to link Hong Kong, the Capital Economic Circle and the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone, therefore enhancing connection and communication among Hong Kong and national economic zones for more opportunities.
Co-location arrangement was the key to the XRL's maximum benefits for residents in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, Lam said. Both Hong Kong and Chinese mainland port areas were ready for providing passengers with effective clearance procedures.
Ma said that the XRL shortened the distance and time from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland by joining Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen into one-hour life circle. Residents in Guangdong and Hong Kong would enjoy enormous benefits in terms of trade and economy, tourism and visiting.
China had witnessed tremendous developments on railway in recent years, said Lu. As part of the 25,000 km-long national high-speed railway network, the XRL was a key link to connect Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland which enabled Hong Kong citizens to enjoy the results of national high-speed rails, improved economic and trade exchanges, and sped up the development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
As a major infrastructure project since Hong Kong's return to the motherland in 1997, the 26-km XRL linked Hong Kong to the national high-speed railway network and would provide more opportunities for Hong Kong citizens, said Ma Si-hang from the MTR as the representative of operator for the XRL.
High-speed trains in and out Hong Kong through the XRL would be officially commissioned on Sept. 23, reaching 44 destinations in the mainland.
Lam said that she would take short business trips to the Chinese mainland via express rail link as it was fast and punctual.
After the ceremony, Lam and other officiating guests boarded the Vibrant Express train to Guangzhounan Station.
The Vibrant Express departed from West Kowloon Station, and arrived at Guangzhounan nonstop after 43 minutes. It took 48 minutes for the Vibrant Express to return to the Hong Kong station, stopping at Futian station during the return trip.