Transport system braces for 2.85b holiday trips

08:36, January 20, 2011      

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Migrant workers in Rui'an city, Zhejiang province, scramble to board a coach heading to their hometowns on Wednesday. Provided to China Daily

Wang Xianghong was playing poker in the temporary waiting room of Pazhou Complex on Wednesday afternoon while awaiting the late-evening departure of a train heading to Hengyang city, Hunan province.

The 34-year-old migrant worker was one of a record number of 700,000 train passengers leaving from Guangdong's provincial capital of

Guangzhou on Wednesday, which marked the beginning of the annual Spring Festival travel rush - the world's biggest annual human migration.

"I bought the ticket six days ago," he said.

"I'm eager to board the train to get back home, especially in this freezing weather."

About 2.85 billion passenger trips by airplane, train, ferry and highway will be made during this year's cross-country rush, Xinhua News Agency quoted Ministry of Transport sources as saying. The figure is an 11.6-percent year-on-year increase over 2010.

About 700 million people - half the country's population - are expected to travel domestically during the period, the report said.

In Guangzhou alone, an estimated 28 million passenger trips by train - a 15.1-percent year-on-year increase - will be recorded during the 40-day rush season, Guangzhou Railway Group sources said.

"The passenger surge was mainly caused by the opening of the Guangzhou-Zhuhai intercity railway and the increased passenger capacity of the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed rail," Guangzhou Railway Group spokesman He Zhiwen said.

The Guangzhou-Zhuhai intercity railway, which opened early this month, passes through the major cities of Guangzhou, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhuhai in the Pearl River Delta region.

The Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed rail will accommodate an average of 80,000 passenger trips a day, a 91.4-percent year-on-year increase, He said.

Guangzhou Railway Group began operating 38 temporary trains on Wednesday, most of which will head to inland provinces and regions, to facilitate the passenger flow.

The Ministry of Railways has also announced it will operate 586 more trains a day during this year's travel peak than during last year's. It has arranged for 4,531 more daily departures, a 15-percent year-on-year increase.

China Southern Airlines will add 4,557 flights, 4,335 of which are domestic, during the period.

To cope with the passenger surge and ensure the rail system operates smoothly, railway authorities across the country have adopted a diversified ticket-sales system that includes opening additional sales locations.

Guangzhou passengers can buy tickets at 2,676 windows or by using a ticket sales hotline.

Migrant workers are able to arrange for group ticket sales and can book their return tickets before Spring Festival, which falls on Feb 3 this year.

The Guangzhou Railway Group also required passengers to buy tickets using their real names at nine railway stations in Guangdong, 21 stations in Hunan and 12 stations along the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway.

Shanghai Railway Station, East China's largest railway hub, has opened 249 sales windows for the seasonal rush.

"We'll add 86 trains to Sichuan's provincial capital of Chengdu, Chongqing municipality and Guizhou province to supplement the existing 927 trains to ensure a safe and orderly operation," Shanghai Railway Station spokeswoman Dong Bilian said.

A total of 850 train ticket windows and 160 automatic ticketing machines have been put into operation in Shanghai, which has three railway stations.

The city's railway authorities expected the daily average passenger flow to exceed 5.37 million, a 46-percent year-on-year increase.

"I came to the train station early today, because I was afraid of missing the train," said Wang Chuanjiang, a migrant worker from Kaifeng city, Henan province.

Wang arrived at the Shanghai Railway Station seven hours before the train's 5 pm departure and waited in a temporary underground waiting area in the station's north square.

In Hubei's provincial capital Wuhan, a major transport hub of Central China, railway authorities expected more than 13.8 million passengers, a 12.6-percent year-on-year increase.

Wuhan Railway Bureau deputy Party secretary Ding Kongxin said 278 high-speed trains, including 176 running along the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed rail, will be put into operation a day.

But some migrant workers, such as 26-year-old He Jian, were still waiting for a ticket home.

The Jilin province native had not obtained a ticket after lining up at a ticket office for five hours.

"But I will keep lining up to buy a ticket," He said.

"Only in my hometown can I feel Spring Festival's warmth."

Spring Festival, or the Chinese lunar new year, is the country's most important holiday, during which people return home for family reunions.

Yu Ran and Guo Rui contributed to this story.

By Qiu Quanlin, China Daily
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