Railway transport makes up 1/4 of world's total

Updated: 2007-01-28 09:18
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China saw its railway transportation volume account for a quarter of the world's total last year, with only 6 percent of global operational railway mileage, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) has said.

China beat all other countries in passenger and cargo traffic by railway last year, with its passenger turnover hitting 662.2 billion person-kilometers and freight turnover reaching 2.87 billion ton-kilometers, MOR spokesperson Wang Yongping said on Friday.

The general railway turnover also topped the world with a total of 2.86 trillion ton-kilometers, 130 billion ton-kilometers more than that of the United States and one and a half times that of Russia.

Meanwhile, the country has only 76,600 kilometers of railways in operation, making the density of its railway transportation the largest in the world.

"Although China's railways have the highest efficiency of transport, they still lag far behind the nation's economic and social development," said Wang.

The country can provide more than 2.42 million seats for railway travelers every day, only half the number of daily passenger traffic during the peak season of the Spring Festival, China's traditional New Year Festival.

In 40 days starting from February 3, more than 156 million passengers will travel by train, according to the ministry's estimation.

But even before the busiest period,Beijing's largest railway station was already hit by its first peak of passenger traffic.

The Beijing West Railway Station is expected to see 110,000 passengers depart on Saturday, most of them college students going home for winter vacation, said the station's spokesperson Saturday.

While millions of Chinese, the bulk of them students and migrant workers, travel home by train to spend the Spring Festival with their families.

During the Spring Festival, the MOR will strictly regulate ticket sale, crack down on scalpers and improve services aboard like food, water supply and hygiene, said Liu Zhijun, MOR Minister.

"With an extreme shortage in railway transportation capacity, we'll face even bigger pressure for this Spring Festival," said Liu.

He urged the railway departments to ensure the safety of travelers and get fully prepared for emergencies.