Spring Festival travel wasn't expected to heat up until the end of this month, but Shanghai railway stations are already busy as a large number of migrant workers are heading home early for the holiday.
The country's transport authority previously announced the peak travel season for the upcoming Spring Festival would start on January 25.
However, since January 1, lots of migrant workers from Sichuan and Anhui provinces began to go back to their hometowns to spend the Spring Festival before the peak season arrives.
"These passengers have created massive traffic on the routes to provinces such as Sichuan and Guizhou," said Wang Lushan, a Shanghai Railway Station official.
Wang noted that the busiest train is the No. 1352 heading for Chengdu City in Sichuan, which is already running at full capacity.
As the No. 1352 train doesn't have air conditioning and its tickets are relatively cheaper than other lines, out-of-town workers prefer to ride it, Wang noted.
Starting on New Year's Day, the station began offering tickets 10 days ahead of departure time to meet increasing demand. Usually, passengers can only buy tickets six days prior to departure.
"These days we are much busier than normal. More and more people are buying tickets to return home for the upcoming Spring Festival," said an officer surnamed Zheng at the station's ticket office. "The tickets to Chengdu and Fuyang (in Anhui Province) are the most popular."
While waiting for his train, a migrant laborer surnamed Wang said the heavy snow around the year-end suspended the construction project he was working on.
"Most workers would rather go home as early as they can than stay in Shanghai without any work to do," Wang said, noting tickets are cheaper at this time of year.
(Shanghai Daily January 5, 2005)