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Extra Trains to Cope with Holiday Rail Passengers
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China's transport authorities will lay on up to 318 additional rail journeys each day, a record high, during the upcoming Spring Festival travel period, known in Chinese as Chunyun.


The number of extra journeys scheduled each day between February 3 and March 14 is up 17 on last year.


The traditional train fare hike during the holiday season has been scrapped, as the move failed to slash demand and relieve pressure on the rail network, Ministry of Railways officials said.


This year, the Ministry of Railway has predicted that the number of rail passengers during the Chunyun period will reach 156 million.


In reality, the travel season has begun half a month ahead of the official time. Passenger flow will be at its highest from the last days of January in Beijing and Guangzhou to February 18, when the Spring Festival holiday week begins. After the festival, the passenger flow will mainly come from Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanchang, Hefei and Fuyang.


China's largest railway station, Beijing West Railway Station, saw a passenger flow of more than 110,000 on January 17, 30,000 more than the daily average, said Yao Hongren, spokesman of the station. Most of the passengers were students and rural migrant workers.


The Guangtie Group based in Guangzhou, capital city of south China's Guangdong Province, started Chunyun seven days ahead of the official time.


Trains transported 400,000 travelers out of Guangzhou on Saturday. Seventy trains, dispatched by the Ministry of Railways to reinforce Guangzhou's rail fleet, arrived in the province on Monday, ready to accommodate the additional passengers, according to the local railway group.


Ticket touts regularly plague China's railway services during Chunyun. The railway police in Chongqing, a municipality in southwest China, penalized 100-odd touts over the past 18 days, involving rail tickets valued at more than 600,000 yuan (US$76,923).


(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2007)


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