One year after the express rail link connecting Hong Kong to the mainland came into being, authorities have revealed that passenger numbers have fallen way short of what they initially projected.

The HK$84.4 billion high-speed rail link started operating on September 23 last year, with the SAR government estimating an average patronage of around 80,000 people a day.

But as of August 2019, the average number of passengers taking the link each weekday was just over slightly half that target at 45,000.

It added that the average usage is more on weekends, about 62,000; and the figure was about 2,000 higher in June.

The MTR said there has been a drop in passenger numbers in July and August. But they maintained that the high-speed rail services have been welcomed by tourists and are running smoothly.

In a statement, a spokesperson from the railway giant said while the cross-border link has seen a “steady growth” in passenger numbers, it will continue to boost business by collaborating with the tourism sector to provide discounted tickets and packages to cities like Guangzhou, Huizhou and Guilin.