Snow-Stricken Trains Creak Back to Normal in China

China's snow-stricken railways were creaking back into action on Friday, but with power cuts still crippling swathes of the country, President Hu Jintao visited a coal mine and urged workers to boost production.

Hu, flying round the country in a special plane, also visited the key coal port of Qinghuangdao and asked dock workers to speed up loading of the fuel for shipping to the power stations of the stricken south, the official Xinhua agency said.

"Disaster-hit areas need coal and the power plants need coal," Hu was quoted as telling miners and their managers who will be sacrificing the most important holiday of the Chinese year to try to get the country's power stations back to normal.

"I pay an early New Year call here to those miners who will not go back home to celebrate the Spring Festival for (the sake of) the coal production," Hu said during the visit, which was only reported by state media late on Thursday.

The worst winter storms to hit parts of China in half a century cut road and rail links, stranding millions and contributing to the country's worst power crisis ever with brownouts across more than half the country.

In badly-hit Guangzhou, where hundreds of thousands of travelers had milled around the station in icy weather for days, trains were starting to move again and a police cordon in nearby streets had brought some order to the chaotic station forecourt.

The train system would be able to take some 400,000 people a day out of Guangzhou, with travelers allowed to board depending on the date of their ticket, the Southern Metropolis paper said.

But with scrums surrounding most trains that pulled out of the station, travelers said they needed luck as well as a ticket.

"I was over at the station earlier and then came back around here because of the crowd, it's not looking good," said Hu Lin, an environmental assessment official from Hubei province. "This is like if you prepare dinner for two and two hundred people show up," he added.

Most major roads have also returned to normal, but highways in stricken Guizhou are still closed because of ice and snow, the country's top economic planner said.