Spring Festival severe transport test

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-06 08:48

The country's transport system will face its severest test during Spring Festival (beginning February 18) when about 2.17 billion people are expected to travel to and from home in 40 days.

The figure is based on the passenger flow last year, when more than 2 billion people traveled across the country between January 14 and February 22.

"It's a passenger flow that no other country in the world encounters," a transport official said on Friday.

The country's railways, communications and civil aviation administrations have made all necessary arrangements to handle this year's passenger flow starting from February 3.

The railways expect to carry 156 million passengers this year, an increase of 4.3 per cent over last year.

"The major railway passenger outflow will be in Beijing and Guangzhou before the festival, and Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanchang and Hefei after," a Ministry of Railways news release said.

The ministry has arranged for 318 additional passenger trains and is prepared to deal with any emergency.

The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) estimates at least 19.3 million passengers to fly during the 40 days, an increase of 9.4 per cent over last year. It has urged airlines and airports to ensure enough flights on busy routes.

Buses, however, are still the most used mode of transport for the majority of Chinese travelers. The Ministry of Communications said the number of people taking buses was likely to reach 1.97 billion, that is, 90.8 per cent of the total passengers. Another 28.4 million people would to travel by ship.

The huge passenger volume not only poses a challenge to the transport system, but also tests the patience and endurance of long-distance travellers that is compounded by massive crowds and the uncertainty of getting a ticket.

Wang Yingchao, 35, works in Beijing but spends the holidays with her parents in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province. She said: "I get a headache as Spring Festival approaches every year, because it's extremely difficult to get a train ticket."

Fortunately, she has always managed to go home either on a train or a plane before the lunar new year's eve. "But before I can even relax after the long journey, I start worrying about a return ticket."

There's good news for college students this year. Round-trip train tickets will be sold on college campuses of 10 cities, including Beijing.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours