China Railway set for record-high travels in 2010. Wow…

(Xinhua)
Updated: 2010-01-07 21:06
BEIJING: China’s rapidly expanding and modernizing rail network will
record 1.64 billion passenger journeys in 2010, up 120 million or 7.6
percent from last year, Railways Minister Liu Zhijun said Thursday.

At a national railways work conference in Beijing, Liu forecast the
larger network would also carry 3.5 billion tonnes of freight, up 5.4
percent year on year.

In 2009, a total of 1.52 billion journeys were made, and 3.32 billion
tonnes of freight were transported, both breaking records.

The Ministry of Railways (MOR) forecast 210 million train passengers
during the Spring Festival “peak period” (January 30 – March 10) this
year, 9.5 percent more than last year.

The MOR revealed at the conference the China’s railways in operation
reached 86,000 kilometers (km) in length by the end of 2009, second
only to the United States.

Railways investment in 2009 alone was more than the total amount
from1995 to 2005, hitting 600 billion yuan (US$88 billion), up 79
percent year on year, according to the MOR.

“Another 33,000 kilometers of railways are now under construction.
This will need 2.1 trillion yuan of investment in the years to come,”
said Liu.

Investment on the Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway had reached
122.4 billion yuan, he said.

Construction of the high-speed railway, with a designed travel speed
of 350 km per hour, started in April 2008 and would finish in around
five years. The 1,318-km line would cut travel times between the two
cities to only five hours from about 12 hours.

In late December, the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed line opened with a
350-km-per-hour average speed. Travel time between the cities was cut
to three hours from 10 previously.

However, the country’s vast rail system is also vulnerable to natural
mishaps. The worst snow in five decades hit central and south China in
mid-January 2008, causing rail disruptions and stranding tens of
thousands of people, many of them migrant workers rushing back home
for the Spring Festival, at rail stations.

In the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, passenger trains
have been trapped in snow and icy weather that hit north China last
week, and on Tuesday, the Ministry of Transport called on transport
authorities to make “all-out efforts” to clear the snow.

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