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Transport demand rockets
( 2004-01-06 00:48) (China Daily)

Plans can hardly keep pace with actual changes. This saying has been proven correct by the soaring transport demand during for the Spring Festival, which falls much earlier this year.

Passengers pass through ticket-checking point at the Beijing West Railway Station January 5, 2004. Nearly 140 million people are expected to take the train during this year's Spring Festival travel season, which started on Sunday and will last for 40 days. [newsphoto.com.cn]

As a result, the Ministry of Railways launched a special plan on Sunday to handle Spring Festival transport demand, three days earlier than expected.

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou opened more temporary ticket offices on Sunday, selling railway tickets around the clock, and added hundreds of temporary trains to cope with the increasing number of passengers.

There is usually a massive population flow during the Spring Festival every year in the world's most populous country, because people will go back to their hometowns for family reunions during this most important traditional holiday.

Nearly 140 million people are expected to take the train during this year's Spring Festival travel season, which started on Sunday and will last for 40 days.

According to the ministry, the burden on the transport system will be much heavier this year, because the festival comes half-a-month earlier and students on winter vacation and migrant workers will be returning home during a much shorter period of time.

Such a high demand over such a short period of time has led the ministry to put more trains into service.

Wu Qing, head of the transport department under the railway ministry, said more than 600 temporary trains would be put into operation nationwide during the festival.

And ticket price were increased by between 15 to 20 per cent on January 14.

As a national transport hub, Beijing has opened 238 new ticket windows, bringing the total number in the capital to 650, the highest number for any city in China.

Meanwhile, Beijing's railway stations have increased the size of their waiting rooms, adding more than 6,000 square metres to cope with soaring passenger numbers.

According to the Beijing Railway Bureau, more than 6 million passengers are expected to travel through Beijing during the Spring Festival travel season.

A total of 132 temporary train services have been put into operation in Beijing, an increase of 20 compared to last year.

In Chengdu, the most important transport hub of the populous Sichuan Province in Southwest China, the Chengdu Railway Sub-Bureau is expected to transport more than 4 million people during the Spring Festival travel period, up 2.1 per cent over the same period last year.

To meet the needs of the increasing number of passengers, the sub-bureau, which is in charge of railway lines in Sichuan, will provide 78 extra trains during the travel period.

Students will get priority for train ticket purchase, baggage storage, and waiting for and boarding trains. And trains specially for students will be available on some important routes, said He Yuan, deputy chief of the sub-bureau.

He said his bureau had also sent staff to sell tickets directly to migrant workers and plans to provide special trains for them.

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