Tens of thousands of people flocked to train stations in the Chinese capital today as they make their way home for family get-togethers, celebrating the upcoming Lunar New Year.The scene has been repeated in major cities across the country as the world’s largest annual human migration continues in full swing.
Rail officials in Shanghai expect nearly 400 thousand passengers to board trains today at the city’s three railway stations. And before the holiday begins on Wednesday, more than 10 million rail journeys are expected to have originated in the city.
Zhengzhou Railway Station, the biggest rail transfer hub in China, saw more than 150 thousand trips during the day, an increase of 30 percent from last year.
Buying tickets often proves tough, with passengers at the station saying that even buying tickets online has become much harder.
“I got this ticket from someone who had returned it and I managed to get it. Train tickets usually sell out within two minutes of going on sale. After a couple of weeks some return their tickets and we can buy those.”
“Buying tickets is really hard! I had to refresh the website for a week before I managed to buy them.”
In China, many people work in big cities, and many of them are far from their home towns; the week-long “Spring Festival” holiday is the only time many of them will have for seeing their families this year. Crowds of people dragging suitcases and holding bags thronged Beijing Railway Station as they rushed to get on trains.
Sun Yuanbin, a 23-year-old student, will spend around 26 hours traveling to get back to his home town in northeastern Jilin Province.
“After all, Spring Festival is a traditional festival in our country. When people who are working in different places across the country come to train stations and see the trains that will take them back to their home towns, they will be very excited. Although we only get hard-seat tickets to stay overnight on, we still feel very happy.”
Xie Jingyi, spokesman for Beijing railway station, says ensuring the safety and smooth operation of passenger trips is now their top concern.
“After the middle of January, we are all focusing on Passenger Services, which includes entering stations, checking tickets, crowd control. When it comes to the safety issue, you can see that we’ve improved our security process.”
Extra security has also been put outside Shanghai Railway Station. Armed police, emergency communications trucks and temporary police units have been stationed outside the main entrance and over 300 military police and volunteers have been pulled in to help during the busy period.