January 13 was the first day China's passengers were able to buy train tickets for the Spring Festival, the nation's most important traditional holiday.
By the time tickets began selling at 7 PM yesterday, many people had already lined up before the ticket windows. Metropolis like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou saw a visible surge of ticket buyers last night, mostly migrant workers and university students.
The Spring Festival transportation season lasts 40 days, from January 23 to March 2 while the Spring Festival is from February 6 to 8.
Passengers can buy tickets ten days ahead of their departure.
According to Beijing Railway Bureau, the Spring Festival travel season started a little earlier this year. The flows of students and migrant workers are expected to overlap late this month. Passengers leaving for provincial capitals like Chengdu, Nanchang, Hefei, and Baotou have seen significant growth.
As the winter vacation begins, railway bureaus in different provinces across the country set up sales outlets in colleges and universities to facilitate students buying tickets. They also planned to add more passenger trains to send migrant workers home.
More than 2 billion people/journeys were made during the Spring Festival flow last year, driven by emotional ties to their families. The overwhelming majority of people chose to travel by bus.
Only 140 million people/journeys were made by train during the last Spring Festival, though train charges are much cheaper than bus tickets.
Getting train tickets remains the biggest difficulty for those who plan to go home to have a get-together with their families.
(Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2008)