The bullet train G6501 heads to Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station from Guangzhou South Station, Sept. 23, 2018. (Photo/China News Service)
The first high-speed train set off on its maiden trip from China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen to Hong Kong at 6:44 a.m. Sunday.
The bullet train G5711 with 613 seats traveled 19 minutes from Shenzhenbei railway station to Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station. Tickets were booked up weeks ago on the release day.
The trip marks the full opening of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), stretching 141 km connecting the three cities. Part of the expansive 25,000-km rail network on the mainland, the XRL also links Hong Kong with 44 mainland destinations.
"It's so fast," said Zhong Fangzhen, onboard the train with her six-year-old son. Zhong said the trip was a gift for her son's birthday.
Two minutes after departure, the train sped up to 177 km per hour. The train is designed to travel at 200 km/h in the 26-km Hong Kong section, and 300 km/h in the Guangzhou-Shenzhen section.
Many passengers on board took out their phones to take pictures and record the trip. Some live broadcast the experience online.
In the past, it took about two hours to travel from Guangzhou to Hong Kong by intercity line. Now, the time is cut to 47 minutes on the XRL.
Zhang Yan, a passenger working at a foreign-funded enterprise in Shenzhen, said she was excited about the new line. Zhang often takes her son to Hong Kong Disneyland in her spare time. With XLR, it only took her family 14 minutes to travel from Shenzhen's Futian station to West Kowloon.
Feng Yan, a high-speed train fan, added the train ticket to his own collection. Over the years, Yan has collected dozens of tickets from various maiden trips made by bullet trains on different lines.
"Now we can take a direct express train to Hong Kong and go through checks of both sides at one place. These new changes make this a unique trip," Feng said.
At West Kowloon Station, passengers took about 10 minutes to go through checks.
In 2017, 241 million travelers passed the Shenzhen port, or a daily average of more than 662,000, according to the Shenzhen General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection.
"The opening of XRL will facilitate personnel exchange between the mainland and Hong Kong, and enable faster logistics and more convenient trade along the railway routes," said Chen Xiaomei, spokesperson for China Railway Guangzhou Group Co., Ltd.