BEIJING — As ticket sales become available in the lead-up to the hectic Chinese Lunar New Year travel period, competition to reserve limited seats is expected to unfold during one of the world’s largest human migrations.
The Spring Festival travel rush, or “Chunyun”, will begin on Feb 4 and last until March 16. This year, train tickets can be bought 60 days in advance instead of 30 days as in previous years, a new strategy to facilitate a smooth travel peak. During normal travel periods, tickets can be bought 20 days in advance.
China Railway Corporation, which operates the country’s rails, began selling train tickets for the 40-day travel period on Dec 7. Tickets for departures on the eve of this year’s Spring Festival (Feb 19) can be booked this weekend, including through the Internet or by phone.
Spring festival is China’s most important holiday centering around family reunions. Hundreds of millions of people travel home during the holiday to spend time with their families, putting huge stress on the transportation system.
During Chunyun 2014, about 266 million trips were made on railways, up 12 percent from the previous year.
For Chunyun 2015, the corporation plans to run 3,063 pairs of trains, an increase of 335 pairs from 2014.
Meanwhile, rail police have launched a campaign targeting train ticket scalping ahead of the travel rush, a major problem around big holidays.
The police will set up a special squad of investigators to crack down on online scalping and increase patrols around railway stations. They also encourage the public to report scalpers to them.