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Wen urges easing of pressure on transport
By Dian Tai (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-31 00:57

Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday urged transport and traffic system staff to work towards easing transportation pressures.

Railways, highways and waterways should be reasonably dispatched and relevant departments, local governments and companies should work together to ensure smooth flow, Wen told officials from the ministries of railway and communications on Thursday afternoon.

Priority should be given to the transport of key materials such as coal, oil, chemical fertilizer and grain.

Meanwhile, relevant departments should try to optimize management and tap all potential transport capacity, Wen said.

Transportation safety should also be a top priority and safety inspections should be made so that hidden risks can be eliminated.

The construction of transport infrastructure should be sped up so that they pay dividends as soon as possible, he said.

Systematic reforms in the railways and communications departments should deepen and service needs improved, Wen added.

China's railways account for only 6 per cent of the world's total, but shoulder 25 per cent of the freight volume in the world, Xinhua News Agency reported.

To date, all the major trunk lines have been operating at full capacity.

Due to the serious shortfall in freight capacity, only one third of the freight demand can be met at present, said the Ministry of Railways.

But still, Chinese railways managed to further increase transport of key materials for the nation's macro-control, said Xinhua.

China's railways shipped 480 million tons of coal in the first half of this year, up 12.2 per cent over the same period last year.

Shipments of grain rose 13.1 per cent to 55.59 million tons, chemical fertilizer and other materials for agriculture rose 5.6 per cent to 33.33 million tons, and oil rose 12.1 per cent to 58.67 million tons.

An official told Xinhua the ministry has allocated 90 per cent of its cargo freight capacity to guarantee the transport of key materials while trying to optimize the management, raise the train speed and increase the freight load.

The official said Chinese railways have contributed greatly to the ongoing macro-control of the economy and normal running of the national economy.

"As railway freights of key materials continues to grow, grain prices are stabilized and shortage of coal is alleviated," he said.

Hu Yadong, vice-minister of railways, said earlier that there is an urgent need to quicken the construction of new railways and modernize rolling stock to fundamentally solve the shortfall of railway freight capacity.

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