China’s high speed railway system took a battering after the horrid crash in Wenzhou this past summer, and many lines fell victim to a spate of downgrading and delays, but this has not meant China has given up on HSR.
Despite opening 50 km/h slower than originally planned, the high speed connection was still made on 26 December 2011 between Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as the Guangzhou South-Shenzhen North part of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong opened. Lest you think China was scared from the crash and decided to backwards-innovate, this new part of the national HSR network tests out very new territory. In fact, the new route — which is around twice as fast as the convention Guangzhou-Shenzhen route via Dongguan — goes through a 10.8 km long tunnel under the Pearl River estuary, the longest underwater tunnel in China and fastest worldwide (as it was built for speeds up to 350 km/h). In fact, this tunnel’s rather slow progress was why this part of the HSR to Hong Kong was opened just recently — the original planned schedule of April 2009 was too optimistic.
There are only three midway stations between Guangzhou South and Shenzhen North — Qingsheng, Human, and Guangmingcheng. All are planned to link to local metro networks, but for some reason, Guangzhou Metro Line 4 is not stopping at the HSR station. This makes it the most connected part of the ultimate Beijing-Hong Kong HSR.
Shenzhen’s Futian station and the Hong Kong West Kowloon terminus are still being built and are scheduled to be opened in full by 2015, if not earlier. Only the mainland part operates at up to 350 km/h — the Hong Kong part runs at only 200 km/h.
Prices are somewhat akin to the conventional route via Dongguan, although first class tickets are somewhat cheaper on the new line. All trains in Shenzhen end at the new Shenzhen North Railway Station, where passengers can connect onto the Longhua Line to the city centre and the border with Hong Kong.