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Sunday, November 19, 2017, 10:56
HK begins 'three-step process' of express rail co-location plan
By Willa Wu
Sunday, November 19, 2017, 10:56 By Willa Wu

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (right) and Governor of Guangdong province, Ma Xingrui pose for photos after the signing of the co-operation arrangement on the West Kowloon Station co-location arrangement of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link at the Government House, Hong Kong on Nov 18, 2017. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG - The express rail link connecting Hong Kong and Guangzhou marked the start of a new chapter on Saturday with the signing of a co-location cooperation agreement between the governments of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Guangdong province.

The agreement marked the first step of the “three-step process” of implementing a joint checkpoint plan at West Kowloon Station of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL).

The deal laid a legal foundation to place designated areas within the West Kowloon terminus to allow authorities from both sides to go through customs checking at one-go.

After Saturday’s signing ceremony, the SAR government and mainland side will jointly seek a decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) in approving and endorsing the arrangement, after which the SAR can start working on local legislation of the co-location plan.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (right) shakes hands with Governor of Guangdong province, Ma Xingrui after the signing of the co-operation arrangement on the West Kowloon Station co-location arrangement of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link at the Government House, Hong Kong on Nov 18, 2017. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

Meeting the press on Saturday afternoon, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she was informed that the NPCSC would deliberate the arrangement in December and the government would table the deal to the Legislative Council in February 2018 at the earliest.

The plan is expected to be implemented along with the start of the operation of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link in the third quarter of 2018.

According to the deal, areas on B2 and B3 levels, the platform areas on B4 level and the connecting passageways, the Mainland Clearance Area and back office, the waiting hall for departing passengers, station platforms and the connecting passageways and escalators are designated as Mainland Port Area and will be subject to mainland laws. 

Hong Kong and Guangdong officials pose for a group photo after the signing of the co-operation arrangement on the West Kowloon Station co-location arrangement of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link at the Government House, Hong Kong on Nov 18, 2017. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

The compartments of trains in operation on the XRL within the area of the HKSAR (including trains which are in motion, stationary and during embarkation or disembarkation) are also regarded as part of the Mainland Port Area.

The co-location arrangement will fully unleash the transport, social and economic benefits of the Hong Kong section of XRL, Lam said after signing the deal with Guangdong Provincial Governor Ma Xingrui.

The SAR leader also said that the government would carefully consider views from the Legislative Council and various social sectors on implementing the plan, and take appropriate follow-up actions.

Both sides also agreed to set up a port liaison and coordination mechanism to ensure “the safe, smooth and efficient operation of the Mainland Port Area and its effective regulation”, and an emergency handling mechanism to assist the mainland in handling sudden or emergency incidents which may occur in the Mainland Port Area in the course of operation.

willa@chinadailyhk.com

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (right) and Governor of Guangdong province, Ma Xingrui (left) sign the co-operation arrangement on the co-location arrangement of the West Kowloon Station of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link at the Government House, Hong Kong on Nov 18, 2017. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

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