Overnight high-speed sleeper trains link mainland, HK

2024-06-17 08:45:34Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The first high-speed sleeper train from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) arrived at Beijing West Station on Sunday morning, where local railway officials displayed banners to welcome the first batch of passengers on board, domestic media outlets reported.

Days ahead of the 27th anniversary of the HKSAR's return to the motherland on July 1, the new rail link will facilitate cross- boundary people-to-people, tourism and business exchanges, while also boost the integration of the HKSAR with the Chinese mainland, analysts said.  

The new overnight sleeper train services started operation on Saturday. Two sets of high-speed overnight trains with sleepers - D909/910 departing from Beijing West Railway Station to Hong Kong West Kowloon Station and the D907/908 trains departing from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to West Kowloon Station - will start operation on Saturday, replacing the previous express trains, China Railway confirmed in a WeChat post on June 5. 

The Beijing-Hong Kong travel time has been reduced to 12 hours and 34 minutes, and the travel time between Shanghai and Hong Kong to 11 hours and 14 minutes. 

Passengers expressed their satisfaction with the overnight journey. Timothy Chui Ting-pong, director of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, told the Global Times that his train departed at about 6:30 pm on Saturday from Hong Kong and arrived in Beijing at 7 am on Sunday. Chui was among the first group of Hong Kong travelers to experience the fast rail link. 

"This is a very new and exciting travel experience. The train allows me to have a restful sleep and wake up to the scenic views along the way," Chui said.

Hong Kong residents and tourists will be able to appreciate the vast and superior high-speed rail network in the mainland, Chui said, adding that the tourism sector of Hong Kong also stands to benefit, as it is anticipated to see an increase in mainland visitors, especially during the summer holidays.

The sleeper trains are widely welcomed by Hong Kong's tourism industry, which has been making concrete preparations to welcome more mainland visitors.

Hong Kong's tourism lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung said that the trains will be particularly attractive to families and elderly travelers, offering comfort and punctuality that may appeal to those who don't like to fly, reported on Saturday.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu welcomed the new trains, describing them as "efficient, convenient and safe," in a statement released on June 4. The new services also have "significant meaning in fostering people-to-people and business-to-business exchanges and integration between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland," Lee added.

The "dawn-to-dusk" travel experience is being hailed by Hong Kong residents. One surnamed Zhang told that the high-speed services would slash the travel time by half, and the sleeper service allows her to wake up at the destination without the hassle of early airport check-ins, luggage collection or additional transportation to the hotel.

The trains will meet the needs of leisure and business travelers for cross-boundary travel, facilitate two-way exchanges and help the industry develop related products, analysts said.

The number of travelers crossing between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland rose 79.3 percent year-on-year to 10.77 million from January to May, according to China State Railway Group Co.

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