Daqin railway, China's leading coal-dedicated rail line connecting Datong City of coal-rich Shanxi province with northern Qinhuangdao port, has hauled over 5 billion tonnes of coal in the past 24 years.
Daqin line, which commenced full operation in 1992, has always played an irreplaceable role in delivering coal from main production bases – Shanxi, Shaanxi and western Inner Mongolia -- to Qinhuangdao port of Hebei province, relieving fuel tightness in eastern and southern China.
Daqin mainly serves large coal producers, power generators, steel makers and industrial companies, and its annual haulage hit 440-450 million tonnes during 2013-14 when coal demand was at all-time highs.
After realized its designed capacity of 100 million tonnes in 2002, the rail line further boosted annual coal transport over 2003-2005, with volume doubling to 2 million tonnes in 2005. By 2007, Daqin transported 300 million tonnes of coal, with annual growth of 50 million tonnes over 2005-2007.
Starting from 2004, China's Ministry of Railways carried out capacity upgrading on Daqin that boosted its coal transport to 340 million tonnes in 2008, making it the world's largest cargo rail line.
In 2010, Daqin's coal transport quadrupled the original capacity to over 400 million tonnes.
Daqin line has always been striving to secure energy supply for the social and economic development. It well fulfilled commitment of delivering over 1 million tonnes of coal each day during the unprecedented snow disaster in January 2008.
However, with the operation of Zhunchi railway (Zhunger, Inner Mongolia – Shenchi, Shanxi) and Mengji (Ordos, Inner Mongolia – Caofeidian port, Hebei) last year, the market share of Daqin has been greatly squeezed.
In 2015, Daqin transported a total 396.99 million tonnes of coal, down 11.82% from 2014. Total coal transport amounted to 312.84 million tonnes in the first eleven months this year, falling 14.07% year on year.
In November, Daqin saw its coal transport rise for the fifth consecutive month to 37.59 million tonnes, thanks to the government and Qinhuangdao port authorities' concerted efforts to boost inventories and stabilize the market.
Daily coal transport of the line is expected to surpass 1.25 million tonnes in December, to maintain stockpiles at Qinhuangdao above 7 million tonnes while meeting strong restocking demand from end users.
Daqin is forecast to haul 352 million tonnes of coal in 2016, 45 million tonnes or 11.34% less than the year-ago level.
In the meantime, competitiveness from Shuohuang line (Shenchi-Huanghua port) is gradually stabilizing, as coal handlings of Huanghua port has grown close to its maximum capacity, said analysts.
What's more, China's leading miners, including Datong Coal Mine Group, China National Coal Group, Shenhua Group and Yitai Group among others, have considered increasing coal shipment via Daqin to Qinhuangdao next year, which may spur a growth in its whole-year transport volume.
(Writing by Evie Feng Editing by Harry Huo)
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