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Ferry promotes links between mainland, island
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-01 23:32

The country's first ocean-going railway ferry will begin carrying passengers on Sunday, furthering economic ties between Hainan Island and the mainland.

A locomotive cruises into the station of Haikou, capital of the island province of Hainan. [newsphoto]
The ferries will take passenger trains across the Qiongzhou Straits in southern China.

It takes about 12 hours for trains to complete the journey from Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, and Haikou, the Hainan provincial capital.

This includes the hour its takes for the railway ferry to cross the Qiongzhou Straits.

An official from the Guangdong Railway Group Company said the ferry would end the history of no rail links between China's second-largest island of Hainan and the mainland and contributes to economic co-operation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta region.

The Pan-Pearl River Delta region includes Guangdong, Hainan, Fujian, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, plus the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

A pair of passenger trains will operate daily between Guangzhou and Haikou starting on Sunday. Each train will include 15 cars with a capacity of 630 persons.

The Guangdong Railway Group Company has decided to open more railway routes to link Haikou to other cities and regions in the mainland in the following years, the official said.

Deng Jianping, general manager of the Guangdong Railway Travel Agency, believed the new railway would particularly benefit the tourism industries of Hainan and Guangdong provinces.

Cars are dragged into the cabin of the ferry "Yuhaitie I" in a test run November 28, 2004. [newsphoto] 
Deng said his agency has planned to introduce special railway tourist routes to attract tourists to Hainan and the cities along the railway line.

Wang Xiaofeng, Party secretary of Hainan Province, expects the new railway to help increase Hainan's economic development.

Hainan's poor transport links have hampered the island province's ambitious growth plans in the previous years, Wang said.

Currently, Hainan's economic development is far behind that of the Shenzhen and Zhuhai special economic zones that border Hong Kong and Macao.

Hainan, the country's largest special economic zone, now depends greatly on air and water transport to link the island to the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and the rest of the world.

Construction of the railway project, that includes two railway tracks and two railway ferry piers in Guangdong and Hainan, cost more than 4.8 billion yuan (US$583 million).

The Ministry of Railways, Guangdong and Hainan provinces are equally sharing the large construction expenses.

The price of a hard seat ticket on the train will be 138 yuan (US$16.76), while a hard sleeper single ticket reaches 257 yuan (US$31).

Currently, a single coach ticket between Haikou and Guangzhou is about 150 yuan (US$18).

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