BEIJING, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- The number of railway passengers is expected to fall sharply to 2.39 million on Sunday, the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Statistics from the Ministry of Railways indicate that the number of temporary trains in use will also fall to 109, including 30 long-distance trains and 79 regional trains.
On Saturday, railways handled 4,293 trains, including 224 temporary trains. The railway transportation system was in good order, carrying a total of 3.58 million passengers.
The ministry warned of two cold fronts set to hit China over the next two days. The fronts are expected to drop temperatures in north China by 4 to 6 degrees Celsius and bring sustained rain to south China, possibly affecting railway transportation.
Statistics released Sunday afternoon show that since the holiday travel rush started, railways have served 82.89 million passengers, up 2.7 percent from the same period last year. On Feb. 7, the number of railway passengers hit a record high of 6.46 million.
High-speed railways contributed significantly to this year's travel. The Beijing-Guangzhou and Harbin-Dalian high-speed railways operated during the travel rush for the first time, carrying large quantities of passengers. The Beijing-Guangzhou line even operated "red-eye" trains to accommodate the increased number of travelers.
Railway departments have made efforts to efficiently use their transport capacity by organizing freight trains to ensure supplies of coal, oil and food during the festival.
Spring Festival marks the world's largest annual human migration. This year's peak travel season kicked off on Jan. 26 and will last until March 6, with 3.41 billion trips expected.
He Jianzhong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, said previously that 840,000 coaches and 13,000 ships will carry up to 700,000 travelers daily during the travel rush.
China's airlines have increased their combined transport capacity to handle 35.5 million journeys during the rush, up 4.9 percent from the same period last year.
The country's rail network is expected to handle 225 million trips, while long-distance buses will transport up to 3.1 billion passengers.
Spring Festival begins on Feb. 10 this year.