Railways see leap in passenger numbers in 1st quarter

China's railways transported a total number of 417.8 million passengers in the first quarter this year, up 9.3 percent year on year, the Ministry of Railways announced Friday.

A total amount of 899.9 million tonnes of freight was transported in the first three months, up 18 percent year on year, the ministry said in a statement on its official website.

But the statement did not specify the reasons for the growth in passenger numbers and freight.

More than 204 million Chinese traveled by train during the 40-day Spring Festival traffic peak, a record for the Spring Festival period, said the statement.

Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, fell on Feb. 14 this year. Millions of Chinese journeyed across China for family reunions during the peak period beginning Jan. 30.

The ministry called for greater efforts of its branches nationwide to help local governments fight the severe drought in the country's southwestern regions.

( Xinhua, April 03, 2010)