GBA rail transport growth new sign of economic recovery

Writer: Han Ximin  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-04-13

Railway transportation in Guangdong has seen a strong recovery this year with both passenger and cargo throughputs growing remarkably, according to China Railway Guangzhou Group Co. Ltd. yesterday.

So far this year, the railway has transported 140 million people, equivalent to 94.7% of the pre-pandemic level in 2019. Around 76.7 million people took trains after the end of the Spring Festival transport rush, which was in sharp contrast to the post-Spring Festival travel off-season in the past years after the respective winter vacations of migrant workers and students, major passengers in the festival rush, ended, the operator said.

Travelers line up to have their ticket checked to board trains at Shenzhen North Railway Station in Shenzhen during the Qingming Festival. Tang Kai

The number of passengers on days around Qingming Festival increased exponentially, during which 5.51 million traveled by train between April 1 and 3, or 1.84 million a day, up by 277.5% year on year. The daily average, which was 35% higher than that in the Spring Festival period, set a new record for this year.

As the pandemic fades into the rearview mirror, the economy in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) has picked up and tourists are fanning out to travel, which has driven the passenger boom, according to the railway group.

“Though there was only one day off for this year’s Qingming Festival, the passenger flow was higher than the average in previous Qingming holidays,” Huang Yuchu, an employee of the group, said.

An aerial view of the departure hall of Guangzhou South Railway Station in Guangzhou during the Qingming Festival. Huang Huiping

The resumption of the cross-border railway service between the mainland and Hong Kong is another contributor.

From April 1 to 5, cross-border trains transported 305,000 passengers, or 61,000 a day in average. On April 5, Qingming Festival, about 71,600 people crossed the border by train, a new daily record since the resumption of the cross-border train service. The increasing cross-border business trips, tourists and family visits have greatly boosted the economic development of the GBA.

“Population mobility is closely related to economic development. The increase of population mobility can boost the development of related industries and the economic growth of cities. Railways play an important role in promoting the exchange of people and regional economies, increase the demand for trade and services, and also drive the development of related industries and cities along the lines,” Xie Yi, a professor from the Party School of Shenzhen, said.

A cargo train loaded with Homa fridges for export waits to set off to Guangzhou's Nansha Port at Huangpu Station in Zhongshan on March 29. Zhang Qipeng

Meanwhile, 10.139 million metric tons of cargo, in 6,219 trains each day, were transported via railways in Guangdong in March, up 12.1% year on year, posting a new historic record.

Products made in Guangdong, the manufacturing powerhouse known as the “factory of the world,” such as small household appliances, daily necessities, chemicals and electronic products, are exported to other parts of the world and well received, according to the railway company.

The latest official data showed Guangdong’s foreign trade took the crown in the country again last year at 8.31 trillion yuan (US$121 billion), up by 0.5% year on year and accounting for 19.8% of the country’s total. Its exports hit 5.33 trillion yuan in 2022, up by 5.5% year on year.