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Extra trains haul parcels from shopping spree

By Wang Keju in Beijing and Zhou Lihua in Wuhan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-14 08:57
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Staff workers check the delivery boxes on a Fuxing bullet train at Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing, Nov 10, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

China Railway Corp put on extra high-speed trains and cargo routes to meet the increased demand for parcel delivery following the Chinese shopping festival known as Double 11, or Singles Day.

It said that a daily average of more than 850 high-speed passenger trains and 350 slow trains with baggage cars will be used until Nov 20 to cope with the logistical load created by the Nov 11 shopping festival.

The company said some 400 high-speed passenger trains are used for "bolt delivery" - a service covering 58 cities that was launched last year by China Railway Corp and SF Express, China's largest courier - more than 10 times the number of trains used in the same period last year.

Orders can be packaged on the same day they were placed, then sent to customers the next morning, according to the railway company, which started to dealing with the Double 11 spending spree in 2016.

For the first time, the company has set aside an entire carriage on each of two Fuxing high-speed trains running from Beijing to Changsha, Hunan province, through Nov 20 for courier delivery.

All passenger chairs in the two carriages were removed so that each can accommodate 5 metric tons of goods, such as documents, garments, food and electronic devices.

Previously, the railway company modified bullet trains and installed a facility that can accommodate 500 kilograms of parcels, and used spare spaces, such as empty chairs, on high-speed passenger trains to transport parcels, the company said.

Delivery time will also be cut to six hours, much faster than road transportation, which usually takes 20 to 24 hours.

Couriers have witnessed a paralyzed delivery network and overloaded warehouses during the shopping spree in past years. This year's Nov 11 full-day sales on Alibaba's online e-commerce platforms alone reached 213.5 billion yuan ($30.7 billion), setting a record, according to media reports.

According to the China State Post Bureau, the shopping frenzy created more than 1.35 billion parcels on Nov 11, an increase of 25 percent over the same period last year.

Li Zhigang, deputy general manager of China Rail Express, based in Wuhan, Hubei province - the company's express arm - said parcels in Wuhan will take just four hours to be delivered to Guangzhou, Guangdong province,

"We expanded the bolt delivery service this year since customers spoke highly of its speed and quality, and we opened 11 lines covering 13 major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou," he said.

Xi'an, Shaanxi province, also saw rising popularity in bolt delivery, which now can reach more than 20 cities including Shenzhen and Chengdu. After the opening of the Xi'an-Chengdu high-speed railway in December, the average daily cargo via bolt delivery was 3 metric tons.

Huo Yan in Xi'an contributed to this story.

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