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Peak passenger flow challenges transport capacity
www.chinaview.cn 2006-01-21 00:26:07

    BEIJING, Jan. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- After being stranded for about 10 hours as a heavy snow paralyzed a trunk Chinese railway, Fang Li finally boarded a train Friday, rushing home for the long-awaited family reunions during the upcoming Lunar New Year.

    "I lost much time due to the heavy snow. But fortunately, I can get home on time for the Spring Festival thanks to the emergency transportation measures launched by the railway authority," said Fang, settled down in a temporary train heading for her hometown in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwestern China.

    Fang was one of the approximately 160,000 passengers held up for hours at various railway stations in Beijing and Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province and also a hub of the north-south Beijing-Guangzhou Railway, due to the unexpected snow spell that began to fall in a vast areas of China on Wednesday.

    Railway stations in Beijing and Zhengzhou had launched red emergency warning schemes, the serious degree of China's three-level passenger security emergency system, to properly allocate stranded passengers, ensure their safety and food supply,and arrange additional trains.

    By Friday noon, the last batch of the stranded passengers in Beijing got on temporary trains allocated by regional transportation authorities and passengers held up in Zhengzhou are expected to board trains by Friday night, said Wang Weijue, head of the Zhengzhou Railway Station, who had been nonstop for some 20 hours.

    During the 40-day peak travel season, stretching from Jan. 14 to Feb. 22, a record over 2 billion migrant workers, students and tourists will travel to and fro to hometowns and holiday destinations, challenging China's capacity of road, rail, flight, ship transportation.

    Official statistics show that the volume of passenger traffic during the special travel season kept increasing by nearly 100 million persons year-on-year over the past decade, forcing the government and transport authorities to impose more working staff and equipment to tackle related problems.

    Up to 90 percent of the passengers, mainly migrant rural workers and students, usually choose to travel by bus, train or car, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

    However, Chinese flights will transport about 10 percent of the total passengers in the long run, in stead of the current share of some 1 percent, Wang Xiaoguang, an NDRC researcher estimated, adding that the ratio in Japan and the United States is about 19 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

    The civil flights will see a 15 million person-time transportation demand during this Spring Festival period, which falls on Jan. 29, compared with the 6 million person-time volume registered in 2000, statistics from the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China show.

    The Taiwan-based China Airlines charter flight CI585 took off in Taipei Friday morning and touched down at a Shanghai-based airport after a two and a half hours' flight, signaling the first charter flight across the Taiwan Straits for this year's Spring Festival.

    A total of 72 charter flights will fly during this year's travel season across the straits, 24 flights more than that of last year.

    The Lunar New Year, which ushers in the Year of the Dog in the Chinese zodiac, is also called the Spring Festival, and is traditionally a cherished time for family reunions.

    For most Chinese, the festival is a unique and important time of expressing and enjoying affections among family members. However, sociologists and economists esteem it a high time of exchange of information and various resources between Chinese cities and rural areas. Enditem

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