Fri, Feb 01, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Trains back on track in China

GOING NOWHERE Xinhua news agency said 12 national highways across six provinces remained impassable because of ice, while snow-clearing equipment was inadequate

AGENCIES , BEIJING AND GUANGZHOU, CHINA

Train service was restored yesterday in southern China, thinning the massive crowds waiting to go home after the worst winter storms in half a century hit during the nation's busiest holiday travel season.

Thousands of people squeezed into the massive plaza in front of the Guangzhou train station. Some of the travelers waiting to board trains said they had been standing all night.

The Railway Ministry said the train service had basically returned to normal and extra trains were being put on the schedule.

"We'll transport 400,000 passengers per day in the Guangzhou area," the ministry said.

But many travelers feared they would still have to endure a long wait.

"There is no way I am going to make my train," said Chen Yuejin, a 32-year-old textile factory worker trying to get to Wuhan in central China.

"It looks like I am going to be here for two days waiting to leave," he said.

Train seats were being given on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Crowds at temporary shelters set up in Guangzhou had eased considerably yesterday.

The Canton Fair Exhibition Center, which earlier this week was packed with people seeking temporary shelter as they waited for trains, was mostly empty.

While train service was getting back to normal, the official Xinhua news agency said 12 national highways in six provinces remained impassable because of ice and a lack of snow-clearing equipment.

One student allegedly had a bright idea about how to get home, but was thwarted by police.

The university student from Hubei wanted to return to Wuhan 200km away, the Changjiang Daily said.

"He had a fantastic idea. He hired or borrowed some ski poles, skis ... and got on the highway," the report on www.sina.com.cn said.

But he was spotted by police, who picked him up and took him to a bus station, the newspaper said, without providing details.

Meanwhile, thousands of people stranded in cars and trucks have one less reason to complain -- they don't have to pay road tolls.

Guangxi's traffic bureau said it had allowed more than 3,000 cars to enter the region "free" to ease the traffic on a trunk road, Xinhua said yesterday.

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