Trips for Festival to be Safe, Comfortable

Good news for millions of Chinese passengers: Trips to visit family during Spring Festival will be safe, easy and affordable.

China's top communications watchdog has pledged to tighten security and improve services to handle the rush of travellers during the holiday week, which starts a week before February 12, which is the Spring Festival.

Hu Xijie, deputy minister of communications, said at a televised working conference Tuesday that precautions are being taken to reduce the number of potential accidents during peak travel times.

Spring Festival, the most important festival in China, is traditionally a chaotic time to be on the move.

Drivers are urged to be careful. Vehicles that fail security standards will be taken out of service. And officials will crack down on overloaded passenger ships and buses.

Officials also will make sure that passengers on trains, buses and ferries are not carrying anything flammable.

Ticket outlets will be more accessible. And customers can even complain about poor service by calling a hotline 24 hours a day. The phone number will be printed in major newspapers and announced on China Central Television Station.

The ministry is bracing for an estimated 1.6 billion passengers during the festival, up 4 per cent compared with last year's festival.

To accommodate the increased numbers of travellers, the ministry has arranged for an additional 12,100 coaches and 1,800 buses.

( China Daily January 23, 2002)