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Spring Festival travel rush

Updated: 2014-01-17 11:59
By Xin Zhiming (

The Lunar New Year, which starts in late January this year, is the most important festival for Chinese people as most of them drop any business at hand to go back to their hometown to see their families. It is a tradition that has been cherished since ancient times, but as social mobility increases in modern times, the road to family reunions has become very bumpy.

It is not the higher travel costs, nor the expected big spending on gifts and other festival items, but the train ticket that has driven many travelers mad.

I’ve heard some colleagues complain that they have tried every means to secure a train ticket, only to find it a mission impossible. Some of them have resorted to the latest software to facilitate online booking; others have sought help from friends to increase the possibility of successful booking.

No doubt chunyun, the Spring Festival travel season, is the largest-scale annual human migration in the world.

Last year, 220 million passengers traveled by train during the Spring Festival season, which usually lasts 40 days. It is a 70 percent jump from 10 years ago, when the number was 128 million.

With the big surge in demand, the railway company has increased investment in railway construction; still, it cannot bridge the supply gap, leading to fierce public complaints and criticism.

Admittedly, it is almost impossible for the railway company to suddenly beef up its capacity to meet the explosive demand during the Spring Festival holiday. Moreover, any temporary increase in capacity would become redundant after the holiday and mean great commercial losses during the off season.

What the company can reasonably do is gradually improve its capacity while focusing on better distribution of its existing resources during the special peak season. At any rate, however, the problem cannot be solved overnight.

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