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Prolonged freezing weather leads to train delays in China
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Prolonged snow, rain and cold weather has led to a number of train delays in central and southern areas of China, in addition to expressway closures and flight cancellations, stranding tens of thousands of people on their way home for the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.


As of 4:00 a.m. Saturday 136 electric passenger trains were delayed on an artery railway in central China's Hunan Province as local power supply system had been damaged by continuous snowfall and icy rain.


Technicians and workers with the Guangzhou Railway Group Corp., which the trains belong to, were using more than 100 diesel locomotives to pull the electric locomotives and carry tens of thousands of passengers out of the section that suffered brownout in the overhead power lines, a company spokesman said on Saturday.


The company had dispatched more than 10,000 technical workers to repair the damaged power lines, he said.


The snow-ravaged trunk railway links Beijing and southern Chinese metropolitan of Guangzhou.


"We will do our best to resume the traffic as soon as possible, " the spokesman said.


About 40,000 passengers were stranded at different stations along the Beijing-Guangzhou railway line, he said.


"It seems that I will spend my new year holiday at this station," a passenger from Chenzhou of Hunan Province told Xinhua on Saturday in a helpless voice, who has been delayed for several hours at the Changsha Railway Station along with 2,000 passengers.


"The coach service was suspended because the expressway had been shut down. I thought it would be easier for me to go home by railway, but I never thought the train could be delayed by snow," he said.


Train delays, up to at least nine hours in some railway stations, were also reported in Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province and Shenzhen in southern Guangdong Province.


Heavy snowfalls, which have been hitting China's southern, central and eastern areas since mid-January, have also forced the evacuation of residents, pulled down houses and damaged crops.


Across the country, millions of people are trying to return home for the Spring Festival, the traditional Chinese Lunar New Year that falls on Feb. 7 this year, putting heavy pressure on the transportation system.


(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2008)


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