China's transportation system is on the road to recovery after being paralyzed by harsh weather, with stranded trains on the move and some expressways and airports back in action.
The number of stranded passengers at the Guangzhou Railway Station in southern Guangdong Province had dropped from 800,000 on Jan. 30 to 400,000 by Friday noon, according to the Ministry of Railways.
Wang Yongping, spokesman of the Ministry of Railways, announced on Friday that 95 percent of rail traffic has returned to normal.
"The damaged southern part of the Beijing-Guangzhou rail line and the Shanghai-Kunming rail line, the traffic trunk of the country, have resumed," Wang said, adding the worst-hit Zhuzhou-Guiyang railway, which links central Hunan Province and southwest Guizhou Province is on the way to recovery.
Since January 26, the southern part of Beijing-Guangzhou railroad had been paralyzed in Hunan Province, where power transmission facilities were knocked out by heavy snow. Trains had to bypass sections via the Beijing-Kowloon railway line.
Meanwhile, Baiyun airport in Guangzhou, which was forced to close because of snow, has partly resumed, a General Administration of Civil Aviation of China spokesman said on Thursday. This lifted pressure on national transport services.
Road traffic was also recovering, with some expressways reopened after workers removed ice from road surfaces.
Sections of the Beijing-Zhuhai expressway, a north-south trunk line, have been restored in both directions in Hebei and Henan provinces. Drivers in northern Shanxi Province were relieved as the local observatory removed the orange alert on icy roads on Wednesday evening, the first time since heavy snow plagued the area on January 10.
However, over the next three days, rainstorm is forecast to hit provinces of Hunan, Anhui and Zhejiang, and icy rain to fall in Guizhou and parts of Hunan and other southern regions, the National Meteorological Center forecast on Friday.
The prolonged bad weather is set to hamper recovery of the transportation system, experts warned. "If the stranded passengers could stay and spend the Lunar New Year at the cities where they work, it will be better. Otherwise, the return journey after the holiday may be also difficult," said Wang.
The snow, the worst in five decades in some areas of China, has killed 38 people in China since Jan. 10. Altogether 17 provincial-level regions including Hubei, Hunan and Anhui have been affected. Direct economic losses totalled 32.67 billion yuan (about 4.54 billion U.S. dollars).
(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2008)