Second in the world only to New York’s Grand Central Terminal, Asia’s largest underground railway station, Futian, is now fully operational. Situated in downtown Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China, the giant complex covers a total area of 147,000 square meters, or about the size of 21 football fields. The opening of Futian, is another landmark in the completion of the Guangzhou-Shenzen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. The first phase, Shenzen (North) – Guangzhou (South) , commenced revenue operation in December 2011. Now Futian is online, the final phase, connecting Shenzhen-Futian to Hong Kong (Kowloon), is under construction and planned to be completed by third quarter of 2018.
According to reports in Hong Kong newspaper, Wen Wei Po, the station cost RMB3.95 billion (HK$4.72 billion). Tickets from Futian to Guangzhou South sell for RMB82 (HK$98) and RMB108 (HK$129) for second class and first class cabins, respectively. The station’s three underground floors will have seating for excess of 3,000 passengers and will be operated by Guangzhou Railway Corporation. The estimated journey time after the construction of corridor will be reduced to 14 minutes between West Kowloon Terminus and the newly opened Futian station, 23 minutes between Hong Kong and Shenzhen North and 48 minutes between Hong Kong and Guangzhou South. According to the new train timetable, there will be 12 pairs of high-speed trains between the Futian Station and Guangzhou South Station running each day.
The mainland China section of the high-speed railway is largely complete, but the line connecting into Hong Kong has suffered delays as the total cost of the project has continued to spiral. According to reports in the Hong Kong Free Press, the total construction cost has risen to HK$85.3 billion, which is 19 percent greater than the last estimate of HK$71.5 billion in 2014 and 31 percent more than the original estimate of HK$65 billion in 2010. There has also been a debate over the presence of Chinese customs officials, carrying out their duties within the special administrative region of Hong Kong.
The recently departed MTR Corp Ltd chairman Raymond Ch'ien Kuo-fung stated that “99 per cent” of the delay and extra cost of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed rail link were due to "objective environmental reasons." The MTRCL had previously blamed the delay on complicated conditions at West Kowloon and the geology at the cross-border area beneath a protected wetland. The opening of Futian, Asia's largest underground railway station is though a major sign that the line is close to completion.
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