Travel: Despite crowds at major hub, situation orderly
Transportation hubs across China have regained their familiar hustle and bustle as they reached the peak of the Spring Festival travel rush.
This year's 40-day Spring Festival travel rush began on Jan 7 and will end on Feb 15. It is the first since the country optimized its COVID-19 response measures and eased travel restrictions.
Data from the Ministry of Transport showed that the number of passenger trips has been increasing since the first day of the holiday rush.
On Wednesday, the 12th day of the travel rush, 45.7 million passenger trips were made, a year-on-year increase of 53.9 percent. On Jan 7, the number was 34.74 million, up 38.9 percent from last year.
The figures were in line with the ministry's estimate that, compared with last year's travel rush, the number of passenger trips this year is expected to double.
About 2.1 billion passenger trips are expected to be made during the period, a year-on-year increase of 99.5 percent, Vice-Minister of Transport Xu Chengguang said at a news conference earlier this month. The volume of passenger trips is expected to be around 70.3 percent of the number in 2019, he said.
Wan Xiangdong, chief pilot of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said that about 11,000 flights will be provided on average daily during the travel rush, about 73 percent of the volume in 2019.
Meanwhile, the railway network capacity has increased by 11 percent compared with 2019, said Huang Xin, director of the passenger service department of China State Railway Group.
"As a result, we can better cater to passengers' travel needs."
Huang added that the railway network will arrange services flexibly in accordance with passengers' travel needs.
Spring Festival will fall on Sunday, and travel peaks have been witnessed in many transportation hubs across China in the run-up to the holiday.
The number of travelers at railway stations in Beijing peaked on Wednesday, with a total of 539,000 trips, according to China Railway Beijing Group, the regional railway operator.
Shanghai Railway Station was expected to see the number of travelers peak on Thursday, with an estimated 475,000 trips.
The travel peak at Beijing's two major airports — Beijing Capital International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport — is expected to start on Friday. A total of 7,700 aircraft are expected to be handled at the two airports from Saturday to Jan 27, a year-on-year increase of 47 percent, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China's North China Regional Administration.
On Wednesday, 275,000 passenger trips were made at Shenzhen Railway Station in Guangdong province, the most in a single day since the travel rush began and an increase of 25 percent over 2019, according to China Railway Guangzhou Group.
Crowds of people were seen at Beijingnan Railway Station — one of the major railway hubs serving bullet train services — on Wednesday and Thursday, but the situation remained orderly, with travelers carrying suitcases and gifts as they lined up for security checks.
Zhang Shifeng, 40, arrived at the station an hour ahead of schedule.
"I have not been to my hometown for three years due to the epidemic," said the native of Anqing, Anhui province, whose journey home would take him about four hours.
Li Yuan left Beijing on Thursday and was headed for Qingdao, Shandong province. Compared with her last journey in June, Li said the station was busier, but still not as crowded as it was before the epidemic.
A woman surnamed Liu, along with her husband, son and daughter, took a bullet train on Wednesday from Beijing to Xingtai, Hebei province.
"We arrived at the railway station pretty late. Fortunately, it was convenient to enter the station and pass the security and ticket checks. No health code or nucleic acid test results are required," she said.
"Though the station is crowded again, which should not be good news for a mother of two, somehow, I am so glad to see that," she said.
Cheng Qiong, 29, who runs a nail salon in Hong Kong, said, "It was really convenient to travel from Hong Kong to my hometown in Hunan province after the resumption of high-speed train services between the Chinese mainland and the special administrative region."
After a 20-minute train ride from Hong Kong on Wednesday, Cheng arrived at Shenzhen North Railway Station, where she took another high-speed train to continue the trip back to her hometown of Loudi in Hunan.
Li Peixuan contributed to this story.