China braces for difficult Spring Festival travel rush

Wang Qingchu
The 40-day annual travel peak begins on January 7 and concludes on February 15, when millions travel to be with their families.
Wang Qingchu
China braces for difficult Spring Festival travel rush

People wait at the terminal of Hangzhou East Railway Station on January 6.

As the travel peak coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, China will experience the most difficult and demanding annual Spring Festival travel rush, the world's largest human migration, a senior official said on Friday.

The 40-day chunyun, also known as the annual travel peak, begins on January 7 and concludes on February 15. During this time, millions of people travel by bus, train, plane and car to reunite with their families.

First off, there will be a considerable increase in the number of passengers traveling, nearly doubling from last year to an expected 2.095 billion. At a news conference on Friday, vice minister of transport Xu Chengguang stated that the figure had increased to 70.3 percent of the same period in 2019.

In the last three years, authorities had cautioned against traveling during the Spring Festival in an effort to limit crowds and, consequently, the danger of coronavirus transmission.

There will be two peak travel dates to major cities, January 27 and February 6.

Secondly, the freight demand will remain high, bucking the usual dip during the holiday season, as the transportation of medical and pandemic prevention materials, holiday supplies, food and other essential items will soar this winter and in the spring.

The migration of people will entail great risks of virus transmission. The infections among the front-line workers will add pressure to the smooth operation of cargo transport.

Due to the industry's long history of operating at low capacity and the current inclement weather, the travel peak will involve safety risks.

According to Xu, the ministry and its employees would make every effort to guarantee a risk-free and easy travel peak.

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