HONG KONG -- An express railway connecting Hong Kong and the mainland China city of Guangzhou in as little as 48 minutes will open next month, providing a boost to tourism and business.
The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will begin full operations Sept. 23, the Hong Kong government said Thursday. The train will connect Hong Kong's West Kowloon station and the Guangzhou South station by way of the industrial hub of Shenzhen.
The trip currently takes about two hours using existing train service.
This will strengthen Hong Kong's position as a transportation hub, Frank Chan Fan, the territory's secretary for transport and housing, told reporters.
The mainland side of the rail link opened in 2015. But the Hong Kong side, built by rail operator MTR, has both suffered from significant delays and budget overruns.
Immigration and customs procedures will be handled at the West Kowloon station.
Some in Hong Kong fear that the project will undermine the "one country, two systems" scheme that grants high levels of autonomy to the territory. But the local government shrugged off the criticism and forged ahead.
The project is a core component of Beijing's Greater Bay Area plan to create a vast economic zone encompassing Hong Kong, Macau and nine neighboring mainland cities, including Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan.
Another key project under the scheme is the 55km-long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, slated to open as soon as this year.