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More scheduled train trips will be made available on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link in the near future if the occupancy rate is as high as 70 to 80 percent, Hong Kong"s Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said on Friday.
The remark came one day after the announcement that the Hong Kong section of the cross-boundary railroad, also known as XRL, will be officially launched on Sept 23.
According to the agreement with China Railway Corp, if the occupancy rate is high, the Hong Kong government can negotiate for more scheduled train trips and perhaps also additional train destinations, Chan said.
That could bring people in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region more benefits and choices, Chan said.
The XRL will offer service to 44 train stations on the Chinese mainland, far more than the previously confirmed 18, according to the city"s Transport and Housing Bureau.
That will include short-haul services to six train stations between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, and longhaul service to 38 stations, reaching most of China"s big cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Guilin, Guiyang, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha and Hangzhou.
XRL will operate 82 pairs of short-haul train trips from Friday to Sunday and 70 pairs on other days.
During peak seasons, such as public holidays in Hong Kong and the mainland, 114 pairs of short-haul trains will be operated every day.
As for long-haul trains, 13 scheduled pairs will be operated every day.
The price of a second-class ticket ranges from 68 yuan ($10) from Hong Kong to Futian in Shenzhen to 1,077 yuan to Beijing.
All tickets will be priced in renminbi. Their corresponding prices in Hong Kong dollars will be adjusted on a monthly basis, subject to fluctuations in the exchange rate.
The XRL launch and expansion of service have been met with favorable reviews in the SAR.
The city"s largest political party - the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - said the newly added destinations will improve contact between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Peter Lam Kin-ngok, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said the cross-border infrastructure will help expand the city"s tourism prospects, attracting more visitors from central and western regions of China.
Lam said the HK tourism board is talking with its corresponding institutions from the mainland about jointly launching new travel packages that highlight the high-speed railway, such as touting the "XRL experience".
Dennis Ng Wang-pun, president of the Chinese Manufacturers" Association of Hong Kong, said the XRL will facilitate transportation for more than 100,000 Hong Kong people who go to the mainland to work, invest, travel and visit relatives.
The XRL is conducive to the idea of the "one-hour circle" for moving between Hong Kong and cities in the Pearl River Delta, Ng said.
That, he said, will attract more Hong Kong people to live and move easily within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
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