Snow-stuck train arrives in Hong Kong from Beijing after 47 hours delay

2008-01-30 06:10:12 Xinhua English

HONG KONG, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- More than 300 passengers aboard a through train from Beijing to Hong Kong arrived at Hung Hom Station here Wednesday afternoon after a prolonged trip due to winter storms that left the train stranded for almost two days.

The delay of the express train No. T 97 for about 47 hours was one of the chaotic disruptions of rail and air traffic in China by heavy snow storms that had battered most provinces in the country's central, eastern and southern regions.

It normally took about 25 hours for the express train, which left China's capital Beijing at 12 o'clock on Sunday noon, to finish the 2,000-kilometer trip at Hung Hom Railway Station, Hong Kong. But this time it took 72 hours.

"I am all right," Zhang Hao, a 19-year-old student, said on leaving the train at Hung Hom Railway Station in Hong Kong, "the long trip was totally unexpected."

"Fortunately we have radiators on the train and the steward offered us instant noodles," Zhang said, "some of the passengers even took the rare chance to make friends."

Other passengers, however, complained that the food provided on the train was of rather modest serve.

The MTR Corporation, Hong Kong's operator for the through train, distributed drinking water and posted notices at the Hung Hom Railway Station. A couple of hotlines had also been set up by the corporation to inform affected travelers with delays on the train schedules.

Trains that had been due to leave Hong Kong on return trips to Beijing were also delayed for the coming days, the MTR Corporation said, adding that about half of the passengers had canceled their trip by the train.

More delays were expected for trains departing Hong Kong for Beijing and Shanghai, the company said in a recorded voice clip on its hotline.

Travelers were advised to make inquiries ahead of their departures.

Snow storms and freezing weather whipped provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Guangdong in central, eastern and southern China, paralyzing the road and rail traffic and cutting off power supply to many places in the region. Such weather occurred almost once every 50 years in the region.

Millions of passengers on their way home for family reunion during the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays were stranded at rail stations, airports or in trains, including about 200 tourists from Hong Kong.

A couple of airports in cities of Shanghai, Hefei, Nanjing and Changsha, had to be shut down by authorities on the mainland due to the storms.

At least 11 flights traveling between Hong Kong and cities of Wuhan, Nanjing, Shanghai, Changsha and Wuxi on the Chinese mainland were delayed or canceled Wednesday.

Civil aviation authorities said airport in the area were being reopened but it would take several days for the flights to catch up with normal schedule.