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Almost 40 per cent fewer passengers took Hong Kong’s new high-speed trains to mainland China during the second day of business on Monday, but the boss of the city’s railway operator insists sales will pick up as recommendations spread through word of mouth.
Just 46,463 travellers passed through the immigration checkpoint at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon terminal – a 38 per cent drop on the 75,517 on Sunday and a far cry from the 80,000 daily estimate by the MTR Corporation.
Tuesday’s number was also poor, with only 21,375 travelling in and out of West Kowloon as of 4pm.
But MTR Corp chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang on Tuesday gave an upbeat assessment for the HK$84.4 billion (US$10.8 billion) Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which has been more than a decade in the making.
SCMP reporters find out how high-speed rail compares to other transport optionsMa said during a visit to the station that he was “not worried” about ticket sales.
“For this kind of big infrastructure project, it takes time for it to pick up steam. People shouldn’t judge its popularity by the first or second day,” he said.
Ma envisaged the numbers growing as Hongkongers grew more familiar with the service.
“The high-speed rail will become very popular by word of mouth when people discover it’s possible to use the new service for a day trip to Guangzhou,” he said.
At Lo Wu and the Lok Ma Chau spur line – the two most popular Hong Kong-mainland border checkpoints – 192,296 people crossed on Monday at the former and 132,119 at the latter.
This article first appeared on www.scmp.com
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