Transport networks brace for travel peak

By Wang Qian (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-02-19 11:31
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Railways in China are expected to face the post-holiday travel peak today and tomorrow, when millions of travelers return to their workplaces as the weeklong Spring Festival celebration draws to an end.

Trains carried about 4.8 million passengers on Wednesday, about 600,000 more than the day before, figures released by the Ministry of Railways (MOR) Thursday showed.

Transport networks brace for travel peak

The volume continued to rise with the peak expected these two days, the ministry said.

Nanning in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Taiyuan in Shanxi province and Wuhan in Hubei province have experienced rapidly increasing travel volumes, the ministry said.

To cope with the increasing demand for seats, the ministry Thursday opened 469 temporary trains.

From Jan 31 to Feb 14, more than 76 million passengers took trains and 7,657 temporary trains were running, ministry figures showed.

Many places like Anhui and Henan provinces experienced post-festival travel peaks earlier than usual as millions of passengers, especially migrant workers, left home earlier to avoid the crowds.

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An Qiang, an employee with the Spring Festival transportation office in Hefei of Anhui province, told China National Radio Thursday the post-holiday travel rush appeared on Wednesday, up to three days earlier than usual.

"All staff are on duty to ensure that passengers can buy tickets on time. Four temporary trains to Shanghai and Nanjing are also running," Li Chuanbao, deputy chief of the Hefei railway station, was also quoted as saying Thursday.

Yuan Guilan, chief of Henan's Zhengzhou railway station, said Thursday the terminal is expected to meet its travel peak today and more temporary trains will open.

Statistics from the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said that roads also carried more than 28 million passengers on Wednesday, up 1.8 million from the previous day, while 127 million travelers used roads from Feb 13 to 16, about 10.8 percent more than the same period last year.

No serious traffic jams or accidents with more than three fatalities were reported as of Wednesday, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Still, the Shenyang-Dalian Expressway was partly closed because of heavy snowfall on Wednesday and all measures have been taken to clear the snow and ice, Xinhua reported Thursday.

Continuous rain along the northern section of the Beijing-Zhuhai Expressway has also frozen parts of the highway with more than 2,310 km covered with ice till Thursday.

The Guangdong Expressway Company said it has 620 tons of de-icing agents and 280 tons of anti-slipping agents in stock to prevent accidents on the potentially risky roads, Xinhua reported.

Traffic authorities said the ice had not affected traffic flow, but they warned of increased risk when post-holiday travel begins.

The country's roads were ready for the peak travel season, MOT spokesman He Jianzhong told Xinhua Thursday.

Waterways are expected to carry 780,000 passengers during the holiday, down 2.5 percent year on year, ministry figures showed.

Spring Festival is China's most important annual celebration that focuses on family reunions. Chunyun, or the Spring Festival travel, started this year on Jan 30 and will end on March 10, with 210 million passengers expected to travel during this time, the MOR said.