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The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link saw passenger numbers surge during its first Spring Festival travel rush.
As of Feb 10, the last day of the weeklong Spring Festival holiday, the high-speed rail route had handled nearly 5 million passengers since the beginning of the rush on Jan 21, China Railway Corp"s Guangzhou branch said.
Chen Guangneng, a big fan of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express link, chose to take the high-speed train to Hong Kong before the Spring Festival. The 35-year-old Hong Kong resident launched a cultural and creative startup company in Shenzhen in 2009.
Chen said that during the early days of his business, the daily round-trip between Hong Kong and Shenzhen was an exhausting nightmare. But the opening of the high-speed railway in September made things much more convenient for frequent travelers.
Construction of the railway, a key part of the national high-speed railway network, began in 2010. The 26-kilometer Hong Kong section begins at the city"s West Kowloon Station.
Travel time between West Kowloon Station and Guangzhou South Railway Station is just 47 minutes, and a trip to Shenzhen takes only 14 minutes.
"My company is very close to Shenzhen North Station, and now it feels just like taking a bus home," Chen said, adding that it took about half an hour to go home to Hong Kong, compared with at least two hours before the high-speed line opened.
"For this year"s Spring Festival, many of my friends working in Shenzhen also chose the high-speed rail because it really saves time," he said.
Many people in Guangdong province have found that the new line makes it more convenient to go to Hong Kong for sightseeing and shopping.
Hou Jingwen, 34, her husband and their 9-year-old daughter took the train on Lunar New Year"s Eve from Guangzhou to Hong Kong for their weeklong holiday.
"My daughter is crazy about Disney cartoons and has long been begging me to take her to Disneyland," Hou said.
"With the high-speed train, it"s now quicker than a lunch break for us to visit Hong Kong."
She bought a lot of gifts, including cosmetics and healthcare products, for her family and friends because they were cheaper in Hong Kong.
"It will definitely become a tradition for me to come to Hong Kong for Spring Festival shopping because driving to a big mall in Guangzhou usually takes more than half an hour," Hou said. "So why not Hong Kong?"
The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Link offers direct services to 44 Chinese mainland destinations, integrating Hong Kong into the nation"s vast 29,000-km high-speed rail network.