Express Rail Link in Hong Kong Photo:
Express Rail Link in Hong Kong Photo:

It is that time of year in Hong Kong, when mainland tourists flock to the former British colony for a one-week holiday.

This year the Express Rail Link, which went into service just eight days ago, is an all-new transport option.

From the official start of the golden holiday period on October 1, Hong Kong has already received more than 78,000 passengers via the Express Rail Link.

The passenger number is only a record because the 26 kilometers-long local section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link is so new, but passenger numbers for the key holiday are far short of the average passenger throughput of 80,000.

MTR Corp chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang said he was not concerned about low passenger turnout because it would take time to get used to the new transport method.

However Ma said he was more worried that “West Kowloon station will be too small in seven or 10 years’ time and 15 tracks will not be enough.”

One reason why the HK$84 billion (US$10.8 billion) Express Rail Link was not carrying the anticipated number of passengers was that Hong Kong people, unlike their mainland cousins, do not typically have an extended holiday in the first week of October. Also, knowing that so many people from the mainland will be traveling, Hong Kong people are wisely opting to stay home.

At the start of the golden holiday, close to one million people crossed the border on October 1. Over 650,000 people came into Hong Kong, with over 270,000 arriving from Lo Wu station near the border with Shenzhen. Over 80% of incoming tourists were from China.

About 340,000 people departed Hong Kong on Monday. In other words, on that day there were close to twice as many entering than there were leaving the city of seven million people.

That made the tourist spots such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay extra crowded as tourists hit the ground shopping.

This year, Elements, a shopping mall near the West Kowloon Terminus, was also filled with tourists pulling luggage trolleys.

It was reported that residents of the area surrounding the luxury West Kowloon Station are being forced to stay home due to the huge numbers of mainlanders passing through their local shopping mall.

Thanks to even faster transport options, the mainland vision of Hong Kong as a shopping paradise continues to shine.