MORE than 2.61 billion passengers travelled by rail in China in 2021, up 18.5% compared with 2020, with 2.53 billion of these passengers carried by China National Railway (CR), according to figures released by the National Railway Administration at the end of April.

Total freight increased 4.9% to 4.77 billion tonnes.

Fixed assets were worth $US 748.9bn at the end of 2021. 4208km of new lines were opened in 2021, including 2168km of high-speed passenger dedicated lines (PDL), taking the total network to more than 150,000km including more than 40,000km of PDLs. 73.3% of the network is electrified.

The number of fatalities on the network decreased by 23%, with only one major accident, 12 fewer than 2020.

There were 21,700 locomotives in operation, 7800 of which diesel, with the remainder electric. There were 78,000 passenger vehicles, including 4153 EMUs consisting of 33,221 cars, and 966,000 freight wagons.

First quarter results

Domestic freight traffic volumes rose 2.8% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with 2020 to 948 million tonnes. This included 350 million tonnes of thermal coal, up 6.5%, while the average daily loading of containers was up 13.5% to 38,290.

China’s fixed asset investment in rail stood at Yuan 106.5bn ($US 16bn) in the first quarter, 3% higher than the same period last year. During the period, 447km of new lines went into operation, including 233km of high-speed lines, according to China Daily.