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.