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Bittersweet travel period comes to an end

English.news.cn   2014-02-24 21:09:54

BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The world's largest human migration came to an end on Monday, the last day of China's 40-day bittersweet travel period.

As many as 3.6 billion trips were made during "chunyun" this year, the travel period around the Spring Festival, which started on Jan. 16.

About 266 million train trips were made, up 12 percent from a year ago. Journeys by road, air and water stood at 3.26 billion, 44.07 million and 42 million respectively, said the Ministry of Transport (MOT).

Meanwhile, the battle for tickets and traffic jams caused anxiety for many.

TRAFFIC DILEMMA

Ticket shortages are a common occurrence during chunyun. Official data showed that more than 90 million tickets were on sale each day during the the travel period.

The peak fell on Feb. 6, the last day of the Spring Festival holiday, when a record 8.36 million railway trips were made, the ministry said.

Cai Tuanjie, director of the MOT's chunyun office, said it was difficult for people to get back home because of the vast number of passengers.

Overcrowding in the richer east and south areas led to ticket shortages, Cai added.

Constructing more railways, roads and having more air routes would be a waste of resources when chunyun has ended. Xu Yahua, deputy director of the MOT's road transport department, said it would not blindly provide more capacity.

GROWING PAINS

This year's 3.6 billion trips set a new record.

Since the reform and opening up, migrant workers have shaped chunyun. There were 500 million trips in 1984, 1 billion in 1994, over 2 billion in 2006, and more than 3 billion in 2012.

"The surge in the number of trips demonstrated the country's ongoing urbanization," said Liu Xiaoming, director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport.

Professor Xu Guangjian with Renmin University of China said that chunyun mirrors the country's development pace.

"Higher living standards mean more people, especially migrant workers, can cover their tickets home," said Zhou Tianyong, a professor with the Party School of the Central Committee of CPC.

INTEGRATED SOLUTION

Yang Chuantang, head of the MOT, said travel during chunyun can be improved. He said road, railway, water and air information needs to be coordinated better, and possibly integrated.

Zhou said traffic information, like train schedules and ticket prices, should be released by the ministry in advance.

Analysis showed that most of the trips covered short and medium distances. Passengers having shorter journeys could travel on roads to ease the pressure on the railways, Yang said.

He also said attracting private funds could help ease the country's stressed railway system.

Editor: Zhu Ningzhu
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