A DIRECT train service from Hong Kong to Peking is expected to begin in 1996, a year before the British colony reverts to Chinese rule. The 1,400-mile route through nine provinces and cities is believed to be the largest-ever project undertaken in China's rail history. At present, passengers from Hong Kong travelling to Peking must change trains in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

Interchange (081-681 3612) has a return fare from Gatwick to Peking with Air China for pounds 490.