Fans pull out all stops to get on the first train out of terminus

Top News | Phoenix Un 24 Sep 2018

Train enthusiasts ran full steam ahead of the ceremonial line when the express rail officially opened.

Apart from the scores of journalists covering the opening at 5am yesterday, three train super-fans were present to witness the event.

One of them was Mr Chan, who had queued for four hours on the first day of ticket sales to snag a spot on the inaugural ride from West Kowloon to Shenzhen North. He was not disappointed that only a handful of people were vying to be one of the first visitors to step into the newly opened terminal.

"It's because the station is a cross-boundary one, unlike other lines where you may catch the train by just using your Octopus card," he said.

Some express rail fans brought props to show their support. Ten-year-old Rehmen held up two flags with the words "Vibrant Express" in Chinese, referring to the train set being used in the railway. Another fan, 80-year-old Mr Ng, prepared a banner that read "Vibrant Express commences on September 23."

Some mainlanders came down to Hong Kong just to take the maiden train to Shenzhen North.

The first official voyage ran as fast as the trial on August 16, with a maximum speed of 200 kilometers an hour. But that could not be sustained for too long and the speed eventually dropped to 190km/h.

A 10-year-old boy, Ng, complained that the seats faced the opposite direction.

The ride was generally stable despite the high speed, but the internet signal on the train was another matter. The 4G reception was cut while the train was in the Hong Kong section of the tunnel, and people were forced to connect to the link's Wi-Fi to stay online.

However, signing up for the free Wi-Fi proved no easy task. Users have to agree to a disclaimer - which no longer asks users to give consent to the service provider to send personal information to mainland authorities - and then use WeChat to complete the connection. Those without the instant messaging app could not make use of the service.

The first train out from the West Kowloon terminus was filled with passengers and media representatives, which resulted in a tight fit in the aisles of the second class coach, which were only wide enough for one person to walk through.

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