MTR Intercity Through Train Ktt Z823: Guangzhou East to Hung Hom by Premium Class/VIP Class

The Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train is a cross-border intercity service jointly operated by the MTR Corporation of Hong Kong and the Guangzhou Railway Group of Mainland China. Services are formed of both company’s trains, with the Ktt operating on the line with three pairs of trains daily with a single train set. Trains operate between Guangzhou East (Guangzhoudong) and Hong Kong (Hung Hom (Kowloon)).

The Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train has its own dedicated area in Guangzhou East Railway Station to purchase tickets and to board the train.

Tickets for the Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train are sold on the right side of the hall after passing security.

Tickets for the Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train are only sold at the specified Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train ticket counters as they are operating on a different ticketing system than other mainland trains.

Identification is not needed to purchase Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train tickets.

Once done with tickets, head up the main escalators. However, I pre-purchased my tickets a day before, at the same counters.

The Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train waiting room is on the 4th Floor.

Look around for signs for the departing train.

Tickets will be checked before entering the waiting room. Inside, China immigration is just up ahead, followed by China customs clearance.

You will be stamped out of China at Guangzhou East.

Once immigration and customs are done, you’ll end up in the actual waiting room with seats around. However, the train would most likely be ready for boarding.

Around the waiting room, with lots of seats and a few duty free shops.

My ticket for the trip from Guangzhou East (Guangzhoudong) to Hong Kong (Hung Hom (Kowloon)).

Heading down to the platform.

The destination is specified on the sign as “紅磡”, Traditional Chinese for Hung Hom.

The original Ktt logo from the Kowloon–Canton Railway (KCR) era still remains on the train.

The SBB-CFF-FFS Re 460 locomotive operating on the Ktt. Two such locomotives operate on the Ktt, one on each end. TLS002 leads the train south to Hung Hom. The locomotive on the northern end is numbered TLN001.

The interior of Premier Class. Tickets cost CNY 216 (~$S43.43) for the journey from Guangzhou East to Hung Hom, which is a small top up (as compared with double the fare) from the typical First Class fares of CNY 181 (~S$36.39).

Premier Class is the term used by MTR for this higher class of travel. The term VIP Class may also be used, mainly by China Railway.

The generous legroom on board Premier Class. Definitely feels a lot more comfortable than standing on the previous train leg.

The welcome screen of the Ktt.

The seats are similar to an airplane, with reading lights above the seats and a call button for the attendant.

Luggage racks are available before heading to the respective levels.

The interior of the upper deck of Premium Class.

Seats 1 to 38 are found on the upper deck.

Seats 41 to 74 are found on the upper deck.

The comfortable pair seats of the Ktt Premium Class. The seats are wide and the headrest is comfy, however, the seats do not recline.

The generous legroom of the Ktt Premium Class.

You can plug in your own earphones if you’d like to listen to the videos played on screen.

Shortly after departure, light refreshments of a pre-cupped mineral water (all the way from Taiping, Malaysia) and a pack of spring onion crackers were distributed.

The Ktt on-board menu for food and beverages.

A bunch of Ktt souvenirs are also on sale on board.

Making a brief stop at Dongguan to pick up some other passengers to Hung Hom. Domestic travel is not allowed on the Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Trains.

I purchased a Ktt Train & Track Set for HKD20 (~S$3.50) from the on-board sales.

The comfortable single seat of the Ktt Premium Class.

And my lunch is here!

I ordered the Baked Spaghetti with Sweet Corn and Diced Pork, thinking the “and” before the Baked Pork Chop with Rice was an “or” instead after three days of reading Chinglish, but nope, Hong Kong means what they said and the Baked Pork Chop with Rice and Baked Spaghetti with Sweet Corn and Diced Pork was served to me. This costs HKD60 (~S$10.51).

The Baked Pork Chop with Rice and Baked Spaghetti with Sweet Corn and Diced Pork was served with a cup of hot Chinese tea as a set.

The Baked Pork Chop with Rice and Baked Spaghetti with Sweet Corn and Diced Pork portion was extremely generous, and could feed two people easily. It tasted pretty good for a microwaved meal actually, felt like I was at a cha chaan teng on rails.

As the Ktt does not come with power sockets at every seat, a Power Bank Lending Service is provided for all passengers on a first-come first-served basis. The service is free, however, a HKD400 (~S$70.09) deposit is required to borrow the power bank, with a form for you to sign.

The power bank came with a charge of 80%, which was sufficient to use it for about an hour.

The galley of the Ktt, just beside the attendant’s room.

The squat toilet on board the Ktt.

Approaching Shenzhen.

The Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train does not make a stop at Shenzhen, but just passes through it to connect to the railway line in Hong Kong.

The area south of Shenzhen Railway Station is a restricted zone, since it’s close to the border of China and Hong Kong.

Exiting Mainland China.

The end of the Chinese railway.

Crossing the Sham Chun River, the natural border between Mainland China and Hong Kong.

Entering the steel gates into Hong Kong.

Hello MTR signalling and the East Rail Line.

The MTR Locomotive Running Shed at Lo Wu is on the right.

The new Hyundai Rotem EMU (R-Train) 9-car set at Lo Wu Marshaling Yard.

Approaching the junction to Lok Ma Chau.

Passing through Sheung Shui station.

Passing through Tai Po Market on the outer tracks. Guess there’s no overtaking here today.

Passing through Kowloon Tong stati-

… getting shots cut by passing trains are a common occurrence on the East Rail Line.

After passing through Kowloon Tong, announcements are made to prepare passengers for arrival at Hung Hom.

The emptied-out interior of the Ktt Premium Class.

Close-up shots of the columns of seats of the Ktt Premium Class.

The destination sign of the Ktt has already been changed to prepare for the departure to Guangzhou East again.

Disembarking from the Ktt.

Premium Class coaches are marked by the additional yellow stripe on the livery along the coach.

The cross-border train platforms are fenced out from the domestic Hong Kong area.

The MTR station sign of Hung Hom. Great to be back in Hong Kong as usual.

Heading up the escalator to immigration.

The huge crowd entering the immigration area.

The queue took about half an hour, and that’s only because I picked the right queue where things moved a bit faster. There were lots of Mainlanders at immigration as well, which took up a bit more time since queues weren’t exactly queues when they’re in front of you.

Once I got out of the immigration and customs area, the arrival schedule had already removed my train, and flashed the next incoming train instead from Beijing West.

Heading out of Hung Hom station.

The China Travel Service (Hong Kong) (CTSHK) counter is located right by the arrival area. This travel agent sells China Railway tickets in Hong Kong, which is useful if you’re in Hong Kong and want to pre-purchase a Mainland ticket without actually crossing to the Mainland first.

Just outside the arrival area is the MTR Customer Service Centre to purchase an Octopus card. It’s advisable to skip this counter and buy a single trip ticket first, in order to skip the long queue.

Overall, the Ktt is a fuss-free and comfortable way to get from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. The train was relatively clean, the seats were sufficiently big and the immigration at both ends of the ride was convenient, eliminating the need to join the crowds at the Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau borders if I were have chosen the cheaper split journey via Shenzhen instead.

With the opening of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) on 23 September 2018 though, high-frequency high speed trains will serve the Guangzhou South – West Kowloon route, opening up another option to get between these two cities. However, with Guangzhou South rather, well, south from the city, a transfer via the Guangzhou Metro would most likely still be required, making the overall travel time similar to the Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train. Hopefully, the Guangzhou–Kowloon Through Train will not be sacrificed once the XRL opens.

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