Getting freight traffic back on the rails

Updated: 2013-08-08 07:58

By Hu Yongqi (China Daily)

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Door-to-door strategy

The CRC has simplified the acceptance procedures and optimized the mode of transport on demand. Sheng Guangzu, a former railways minister and now general manager of the CRC, told an internal meeting that a "door-to-door" freight transport service will soon be established. The service will allow customers to hand over their goods to railway workers, who will then take them to the recipient's house or office.

The door-to-door strategy will not just focus on large-scale commodities such as coal, minerals and construction materials, but also on individual items, according to the source within the Kunming Railway Bureau. If the strategy proves to be successful, the rail freight market will be able to compete with other modes of transport, the source said.

Transport over "the last 1 kilometer" by road is the CRC's Achilles' heel, and will determine the efficiency and quality of the door-to-door service, according to Sun Lijun, president of the school of transportation engineering at Tongji University in Shanghai.

Moreover, although the CRC reforms have not raised the price of rail freight, the company will be forced to accept price fluctuations as a necessary evil if it's really determined to follow a market-oriented model. Customers are now waiting to see the effects of the reform and any new moves from the CRC.

"The biggest change is the new attitude toward the clients. Now railway workers accept us as a source of income and the service is far more pleasant," said Dai. "As long as the railway authorities are determined to provide a high-quality service, I believe they can do it, no matter how hard it may be. The question is: how long can they keep it going?"

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Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei contributed to this story.

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