High-speed railways ease Spring Festival travel rush

By / Xinhua / Updated: 11:01,18-January-2022

A passenger walks at Xining Railway Station in Xining, northwest China's Qinghai Province, Jan. 17, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhang Long)

BEIJING, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Just after Lei Yun checked in at the Shenzhen Railway Station for a train leaving at noon, he sent a text message to his family living some 800 km away in the eastern Chinese city of Nanchang informing them that he would be home for dinner.

"With the newly opened Ganzhou-Shenzhen high-speed railway, the journey home only takes a third of the time it did in the past," he said.

Monday marks the beginning of China's Spring Festival travel rush, known as the Chunyun. About 1.18 billion passenger trips are expected to be made during the 40-day travel season, up 35.6 percent year on year, but 20.3 percent lower than in 2020, the Ministry of Transport said.

Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 1 this year. Like Lei, hundreds of millions of Chinese will return to their hometowns for family reunions to celebrate China's most important traditional holiday.

Photo taken on Jan. 17, 2022 shows a view of Tianjin Railway Station in north China's Tianjin. (Xinhua/Li Ran)


For decades, the Spring Festival travel rush was associated with crowded railway stations and hard-to-get tickets.

In recent years, with the completion of high-speed railway lines one after another and the continuous increase in railway capacity, people's Spring Festival travel experiences have greatly improved.

The new railway lines make for faster and more convenient journeys back home for passengers across the country.

Dai Hongmei and her husband, who live in the city of Jishou in central China's Hunan Province, bought tickets for the G687 high-speed train with a view to visiting the city of Wuhan in neighboring Hubei Province for a Spring Festival family reunion.

"With better living conditions, now you can take the high-speed train literally from your doorstep. The trip used to take almost a day, but now it only takes four hours," Dai said.

In 2021, more than 2,000 km of new high-speed railway lines were put into operation in China. The addition brings the total length of the country's high-speed railway lines in operation to over 40,000 km, more than any other country.

The newly opened high-speed railway lines have shortened the "distance" between different regions and made the Spring Festival journey more comfortable and convenient for people along the lines, said Xiao Yongqing, an official with the China Academy of Railway Sciences Corp., Ltd.

With the opening of more high-speed railway lines in 2022, the railway network will become denser, and more people will experience safe and convenient high-speed train travel, Xiao added.

A total of 280 million railway passenger trips are expected during the annual travel rush, up 28.5 percent from the holiday season last year, according to the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd.

Staff members check passengers' health QR code at an entrance of Changxing Railway Station in Huzhou City, east China's Zhejiang Province, Jan. 17, 2022. (Photo by Wu Zheng/Xinhua)


Despite the recent local resurgence of coronavirus in some areas, many Chinese people are traveling home to celebrate their most important festival.

Multiple train stations across China have offered self-service ticket verification and nucleic acid testing services, to speed up both health checks and passengers' passage through the gates.

Peng Xiang, an engineer with China Railway Guangzhou Group, said the group has increased the number of self-service ticket verification machines to 1,270 and the technical capabilities have greatly improved.

"It takes an average of only 1.2 seconds for the passengers to pass through the gate, down from 3 seconds previously," Peng said.

At the Guangzhou South Railway Station, a free nucleic acid testing service is offered to passengers in need, while passengers from medium- and high-risk areas for COVID-19 are required to undergo testing.

Beijing South Railway Station has also set up a testing facility that can churn out results in just four hours. The station has also deployed robots that can spray disinfectants in public areas.  



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