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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

More flexibility for passengers in the works

More flexibility for passengers in the works

High-speed rail passengers may enjoy more flexibility as the MTR Corp and mainland railway authorities consider allowing commuters to switch to any other train if they have changed their schedule on the same day, as long as their departure station and destination remain the same, says Secretary for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung.
Lam told lawmakers that more ticket types – such as monthly passes – are also being considered for passengers who frequently cross borders by high-speed rail.

Since the resumption of the Hong Kong section of the GuangzhouShenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link on January 15, three new destinations have been introduced.

Five additional destinations will be introduced from Saturday and the daily frequency of express trains will increase to 164 trips from the current 102 trips, marking a return to prepandemic levels.

Lam said a task force has been set up by the MTRC and mainland rail authorities to discuss converting a railway to a metro-style service – like other MTR routes in Hong Kong.

“We want to further enhance the flexibility of express railway services and facilitate efficient cross-border transportation,” he said.

Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun asked whether “standee” tickets would be provided on short-haul trains, following the practice of Shanghai and Suzhou.

Lam replied that a number of factors need to be considered before providing “standee” tickets, including regulations on railway operation and safety, as well as train type and design.

He added that “passenger safety and convenience is of the utmost importance and authorities will discuss the matter with relevant parties.”

Lawmaker Ben Chan Han-pan suggested that the frequency of the express trains be further increased.

Lam said authorities will monitor passenger demand and explore the possibility of a frequency increase.

Lawmaker Kenneth Lau Yip-keung urged the government to review the problem of “multiple prices for the same trip,” adding it is currently cheaper to purchase tickets by sections rather than for a direct route.

But Lam responded that direct trains are more expensive because passengers do not need to transfer and the difference in price is due to the different needs of travelers.

Election Committee lawmaker Chow Man-kong urged authorities to step up the accessibility of the ticketing channels of the express rail link in order to avoid the long queues that were seen at the West Kowloon Station.

Lam said authorities have communicated with MTR management and that a number of measures have been taken to control such a situation.

These include deploying additional staff and enhancing the circulation of ticketing information.

He added that an electronic ticket collection system will be introduced and the MTRC will help the public familiarize themselves with the ticketing process through publicity and public education.
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