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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 20:34, January 25, 2005
China begins Spring Festival transport peak
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China's rails, roads, boats and airlines are gearing up for the Spring Festival transport peak, a 40-day season that began on Tuesday.

The country's transport departments estimated the total number of passengers for journeys should be 1.97 billion this year, a 3.4 percent increase from last year.

Spring Festival, or China's Lunar New Year, falls on February 9 this year. The holiday is an important occasion for Chinese families, similar to Christmas in the western world.

For years, the transport facilities have been strained during the season as millions of migrant workers, college students and other Chinese flock back home and then return two weeks later.

On the first day of this season, highway and waterway transport authorities reported good news, civil aviation sector added more flights while railway administration continued complaining of facility shortages.

The Ministry of Communications said Tuesday that about 1.79 billion people are likely to travel by highway, a year-on-year rise of 3.5 percent.

The highway transport facilities are ready and enough to cope with the passenger rush, the ministry said.

Tianjin, some 120 km east of Beijing, is estimated to receive 2.6 to 2.7 million passengers at the transport season, a year-on-year rise of 20 to 25 percent, but the local transport department pledged that coach prices will not rise.

About 100 coaches have made a backup facility to cope with an emergency need, the city transport department said.

In China's economic hub Shanghai, the Spring Festival season has started earlier to receive a record of 20 million highway passengers. The relevant administrations have embattled the coming peak, local authority said.

North China's Shanxi Province has cut charges on bus companies that run regular service between cities and rural areas so that migrant workers will enjoy easier and cheaper bus service.

About 27 million people will travel by ship and there will be many passengers along east China's Bohai Sea, the Pearl River Delta and Hainan Islands in south China.

Passengers should not have to wait long for seats, the shipping department of the Ministry of Communications said.

People traveling by air will probably increase by 12.5 percent to 12.6 million this season. From Tuesday Chinese airlines will add 270 flights every day, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China said Tuesday.

About 750 planes have been put into operation, up from 670 last year, providing 500,000 seats daily. The administration said they believe it will meet the need.

But the railways with a daily capacity of carrying 2.74 million passengers still fail to meet the demand of 3.64 million seats in average every day, according to the Ministry of Railways.

"This year the country still lacks of railway facilities to deal with such a huge passenger wave," said Hu Yadong, vice minister of Railways, told a press conference Tuesday.

The ministry predicted that 145 million people will take trains across the country, a 3.5 percent increase from last year.

The season peak for railways may fall from Feb. 4 to 6, from Feb. 15 to 17 and from Feb. 25 to 28.

Passengers and cargo transports will elbow each other as demand for cargo transport also increases fast recently, Hu said.

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