Chinese New Year traffic peaks, but freight flows remain stable

Image: Unsplash. Lan Lin

Preparations for the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) in China are in full swing. The festive period that will peak on Sunday, 22 January, is traditionally the busiest transport period in China. This year, even more, since more passengers will take on trains to travel back home after the relaxation of the Chinese government’s Covid-19 policy. However, despite the rush on the railway network, China Railways reassures that freight traffic will not be affected.

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua informs that this year’s passenger rail traffic will be unprecedented. While quoting the Chinese ministry of transport, the outlet underlined that “the total number of passenger trips for the year’s travel rush will reach 2,1 billion, almost twice as much as last year”.

Cargo flows unhindered

Experience from past years shows that during the Chinese Spring Festival, when large parts of the Chinese population decide to travel, passenger services might occupy most of the railway network’s capacity. However, this year this is not the case. Increased demand for Covid-19, festival, and energy supplies, as well as food-related products, meant that China Railways could not afford less cargo on rail.

“Unlike the previous Spring Festival, when transport was characterised by more passenger trips and less cargo volume, transportation demand for specific cargo types was on the rise this year. Currently, all is going well, major traffic arteries and hubs are running smoothly, and key logistics indicators keep improving,” noted the Chinese vice minister of transport, Xu Chengguang, to Xinhua.

As a matter of fact, the arrival of the first inbound train from Kazakhstan in Xi’an proves the commitment of China Railways to keep rail freight running without slowing down. The train that arrived at the International Port of Xi’an on Friday, 13 January, was loaded with 1,300 tonnes of flour destined for use during the festive period.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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