Having been carefully prepared for the passenger surge before and after the Chinese New Year in mid-February, airports and railway stations across China took more care of passengers on Monday, the first day of the 40-day spring holiday peak season.
Passengers traveling from Lanzhou, capital of northwest Gansu province, were taken by surprise as they entered Lanzhou Railway Station that was reopened on Monday after a year of renovation work.
The new station, with spacious waiting halls, delicate decorations and a real-time information service, served approximately 20,000 passengers on Monday. "I never expected to see such a nice station in the underdeveloped northwest," said a lady from the south.
Many tourists said the comfortable waiting halls swept away most of the anxiety that hits passengers before and during the journey.
Meilan Airport, the country's eighth largest airport located in the southernmost island province of Hainan, has impressed many passengers with its good service and beautiful gardens, including diverse subtropical plants.
On Monday, the airport reported 163 flight departures and arrivals, carrying a total of over 20,000 passengers.
As more tourists enjoy the subtropical scenery in Hainan when other parts of the country are covered in ice and snow, Meilan Airport has reported a 9-percent rise year-on-year in the number of passengers this winter.
In Guangzhou, south China, the central railway station served 80,000 passengers on Monday, a two-fold increase over normal days. Despite the drizzle that fell nonstop on Monday, passengers and their luggage were well sheltered in seven temporary sheds in the square outside the station building, covering 5,000 square meters. Over 300 volunteers were there to help the elderly with their luggage, and to answer inquiries and maintain order.
Railway authorities in Guangzhou have doubled their efforts to facilitate ticket booking. Railway tickets are being sold around the clock, and eight automatic ticket machines have been installed.
In the city's Baiyun International Airport, there were a total of 390 takeoffs and landings on Monday, carrying over 24,000 passengers. Civil aviation authorities have arranged additional flights to meet tourist demand.
Shanghai Airlines in the eastern municipality introduced another Boeing 737-800 passenger aircraft into its fleet one week before the peak season to fly on domestic routes.
A company source told Xinhua that the airline will put on an extra 105 domestic flights and 42 international flights during the coming 40 days.
The Chinese New Year, which falls on February 12 this year, is an important occasion for family gatherings. As most college students, migrant workers and other people working away from home travel back to celebrate the traditional holiday, the passenger transport industry is heavily strained.
China's transport department is expected to serve 1.74 billion passengers during this year's 40-day spring peak season, a daily average of 43.5 million.
China's railway system is estimated to carry 130 million passengers during the peak season, the highways are expected to see 1.58 billion travelers, and the airlines 7.25 million passengers.
Police authorities have lent a hand to the public transport departments to maintain order at airports and railway stations and to ensure a pleasant journey for all passengers.
( Peopel's Daily January 29, 2002)