The post-festival passenger peak is straining transportation facilities as Spring Festival holidaymakers began returning to their places of work or home from travels, said Chinese railway officials.
Beijing's two railway stations saw more than 100,000 passengers return to the city on Thursday and that number is expected to rise sharply over the next couple of days, railway officials said.
The Chinese New Year holiday week ends on Saturday.
Beijing's train stations, airport and bus depots are expected to handle 500,000 per day from Feb. 22 to March 5.
According to the Ministry of Railways, the number of people taking trains will peak from Feb. 23 to 27, with 4.5 million passengers per day, 160,000 more per day than last year.
From March 6 to 9, rail passengers will peak at four million per day, also 160,000 more per day than the same period last year.
The Ministry of Railways has put on a record 636 additional trains each day, during the 40-day Spring Festival travel period, which runs from Feb. 3 and March 14.
As a major destination for returned migrant workers, Guangzhou, capital city of the booming Guangdong Province in south China, saw approximately 150,000 passenger arrivals at its railway station on Friday.
According to Guangzhou railway bureau, most of them were migrant workers returning from Henan, Sichuan and Hunan provinces.
The railway bureau of Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, laid on an extra 45 and 66 trains respectively on Wednesday and Thursday to cope with the flood of return passengers.
On Friday, 620,000 train passengers arrived in Shanghai. The local railway bureau will lay on 566 extra trains in the next two days.
During the 20-day post-festival transportation period, more than 16.1 million people will leave Shanghai by train, a year-on-year growth of 481,000. The peak is expected to be around March 5 when single day transportation volume may reach 760,000 passengers.
The Ministry of Railways estimates that China's railways will transport an unprecedented 156 million passengers during the 40-day Spring Festival travel peak from Feb. 3 to March 14, up 4.3 percent year-on-year.
Passenger flows were concentrated in Beijing and Guangzhou during the first 15 days and will be concentrated in Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanchang and Hefei during the remaining 25 days.
China's highway transportation will handle 2 billion people during the Spring Festival period, up 5 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Communications.
China has 76,600 km of railways in operation at the end of 2006. Last year, trains transported 1.25 billion passengers.
Meanwhile, civil aviation services in major cities will also see a peak of return passengers.
The charter flights between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan started post-festival service on Friday. A total of 96 round-trip flights, operated by six mainland and six Taiwanese airlines, are scheduled for the period from Feb. 23 to 26.
The charter flights are available in six cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen on the Chinese mainland, and Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan.
On Friday, travelers also thronged to major ports to take their way back. So far, nearly 4,000 passenger liners on the Yellow Sea and the Bohai Sea in east China have provided services to more than 515,000 passengers.
(Xinhua News Agency February 24, 2007)