China is gearing up for a 40-day massive, national migration around the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 5 next year. The period is also known as “Chunyun,” and will start mid-January in 2019 when people begin to travel home or elsewhere for the holiday.
The much-coveted train tickets are now beginning to be made available at railway stations across the country, and the online ticketing platform even earlier.
More than 410 million trips are expected next year, up more than eight percent from last 2018.
But at the Beijing West Railway Station, the traditional long queues eagerly waiting to buy tickets at the counters no longer exists.
Jin Jushu, the deputy director at the station’s ticket office said that thanks to advancing technology, many more people are buying their tickets online or via apps.
For some who plan to travel on popular routes and dates, the challenge of getting the desired tickets remains daunting. Qian Jing, who planned to take her children to Pingyao on holiday on the first day of chunyun, said the tickets she wanted were sold out, both online and offline.
“I can only make a connection at Taiyuan now,” Qian complained.
Others who fail to get a coveted ticket may turn to ticket snatchers. Many are third-party-developed software programs which claim to be able to improve the odds of securing tickets. They usually charge buyers extra fees and can lead to illegal touting, pushing up prices and even fraud.
The railway department announced that its official “snatching system” will soon change the situation. Starting December 27, passengers can place alternative orders online on some pilot routes.
When tickets for a certain trip sell out, the ticket selling system will put the passenger on a wait list and reallocate the tickets when they become available again.
In the end, railway capacity which is reported to be improved by 5.3 percent remains essential. In the coming weeks, 10 new rail lines and 299 new high-speed trains will add fuel to Spring Festival travel. More innovations like facial-recognition check-ins, food deliveries on bullet trains, will be put into wider use and optimize services.