Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation said on Sunday it was discussing the possibility of more “flexible” passenger baggage allowances for the soon-to-open high-speed train to mainland China following concerns about the strict limits.
Allowances for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link are currently set to follow mainland standards, meaning passengers can carry baggage only with combined dimensions – length, height and width – of no more than 130cm and below a weight of 20kg.
“Rod-shaped” objects must be no longer than two metres.
For items that exceed these limits, a courier service with a vendor could be arranged to deliver the excess baggage to the intended destination, a plan that has raised some eyebrows.
In a media statement on Sunday, the MTR Corp said it was in the process of finalising arrangements with the courier service contractor, but was also working with its mainland counterpart on how to provide more flexible arrangements.
“We are now discussing with the high-speed rail operator on the mainland how to balance passenger baggage needs and overall ride comfort,” the company said.
“We will study the possibility of implementing special arrangements for more flexibility, so as to make it as convenient as possible for passengers.”
Despite the size limits, the operator added, there would be no limit on the number of pieces of luggage passengers could carry with them.
Lawmaker and former railway boss Michael Tien Puk-sun was not impressed.
“Because of the joint checkpoint arrangement, you compressed the time [of the border crossing process], then now you tell people that they have to ship [their baggage],” he said on a radio programme on Sunday. “If I really have to ship [my luggage], I might as well take a plane.”
Tien was referring to a controversial move to allow mainland officials to enforce national laws in part of the link’s West Kowloon terminus.
The 26km Hong Kong section of the express rail link is set to debut on September 23 and reduce travelling time to Guangzhou to about 48 minutes. The railway links the city to 44 mainland destinations.
The doors of the terminal will open at 6am, and the first trains will depart at 7am.
Meanwhile, about 20,000 visitors attended the MTR’s open day at the new facility in Austin over the weekend, a turnout that operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing said reflected the “excitement and anticipation towards” the project.
The rail line is three years delayed and over budget by one-third of its total costs.