HONG KONG, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- "It's a milestone in Hong Kong's transportation. I'm looking forward to visiting the station and its facilities," said Hong Kong resident Mr. Wan, who had waited for more than two hours to get tickets to visit the Hong Kong West Kowloon Station, terminus to the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL).
The West Kowloon Station will be open to public next week before the Hong Kong's first XRL section, which will link Hong Kong with the mega high-speed rail network of the mainland, starts operation on Sept. 23. A large number of Hong Kong people lined up to get free-admission tickets for visit on Saturday.
Wan and his wife were among the early birds who arrived at the distribution point in Heng Fa Chuen on the Hong Kong Island as early as 6 a.m. local time to get the tickets. The first ticket was handed out at around 8:30 a.m., half an hour earlier than originally planned to facilitate the crowd flow.
The MTR finished distributing all 20,000 tickets before noon.
"I'm curious about how the station really looks like," said elementary student Attalas Lam, who said he was interested in railways and it was worth the waiting time even though he needed to get up much earlier than he did during school days.
A shopping mall in Tseung Kwan O, New Territories of Hong Kong, was another ticket distribution point also with swarming crowds.
Mrs. Wong and her family fetched their tickets after lining up for 1.5 hours.
"My son is fascinated with railways and that's why I'm here," said Wong, a working mom from the tourism sector, who expected the XRL to bring more tourists to Hong Kong.
The cross-border high-speed railway will offer direct services to 44 mainland destinations, among which 38 to be long-haul.
Frank Chan, secretary for transport and housing of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, said earlier that the commissioning of the XRL can enhance the long-term development opportunities for sustainable growth in trades including tourism, commerce and professional services.
Lau Kook Yuk, 78, was excited about the West Kowloon Station visit. She told Xinhua that she had always wanted to travel to Beijing and the high-speed railway was a better option for her besides taking a flight.
Lau, a retired teacher, also hoped the XRL would encourage more young people in Hong Kong to travel across the mainland so as to learn more about the development of the motherland.