Zhuhai’s (and Macau’s) biggest infrastructure project, the extension of the Intercity Railway Line out to Hengqin, will begin operations a month earlier than planned, on November 20. Known formally as the first phase of the Zhuhai Airport Railway, the line will connect Zhuhai Station at Gongbei to Hengqin’s Changlong Station, which is right next to the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, with seven stops in between. The second-last of these stops will be the gigantic Hengqin Railway Station, which is being built to handle 80 million passengers a year.
It is not yet clear whether this means the line will actually be carrying passengers on November 20 or will be running tests. It had previously been expected that the line would be formally opened by President Xi Jinping when he attends Macau’s 20th anniversary celebrations on December 20.
Interestingly, it appears that the Zhuhai Station will not provide a seamless experience for passengers coming in on the line from Guangzhou. They will need to disembark at the Zhuhai Station, exit on the ground level (the platform is elevated), and enter a separately managed area attached to the station, where other trains will take passengers out to Hengqin. The reason for this is that the Zhuhai-Hengqin extension will run trains more frequently than the Zhuhai-Guangzhou line.
The line will eventually connect with Macau’s Light Rail Transit network at the Hengqin station, possibly within a few years once the LRT is ready. At that stage, the Hengqin station will be the second largest underground railway station in China, next to Shenzhen’s Futian station. It is also understood that the Zhuhai Airport station will eventually have a direct line running to Guangzhou South Station.
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