As this year's Spring Festival approaches and China prepares for another travel rush, the country's transport department and other relevant authorities are standing by to ensure smooth holiday operations.
The travel rush, usually a period of high transportation demand as people return home for family reunions, will last from Jan. 26 to March 5 this year, while the Spring Festival, China's biggest festival, will fall on Feb. 10.
As China has been in continuous recovery since it eased its COVID-19 response measures, the country is expected to see a record-high 9 billion passenger trips during the annual Spring Festival travel rush this year, the Ministry of Transport said Tuesday.
Passenger trips via railway, highway, waterways, and civil aviation are expected to hit 1.8 billion during the period, Vice Minister of Transport Li Yang told a press conference.
About 80 percent of the trips will be self-driving trips, which are likely to hit a new high, Li said.
Li said that the country is facing more pressure on logistics and work safety as demand for energy, daily supplies, and agricultural products surges.
Hence, a special work team has been established by the ministry along with various departments to oversee transport during the travel rush.
The work team pledged efforts to strengthen the monitoring of and coordination among different transportation sectors such as railway, highway, waterway and civil aviation, and make sure the transport capacity is sufficient to meet demands.
To boost the national transportation capacity during the busy period, 12,700 trains will be scheduled daily leading up to the festival on Feb. 10, and 12,800 trains thereafter. The railway network will be capable of handling 14.4 percent more passengers before the festival and 12.6 percent more after the festival compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, Huang Xin, head of the passenger transport department of the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd., said at the press conference.
According to civil aviation official Liang Nan, it is predicted that the daily average number of flights will climb to 16,500 during the travel rush -- roughly the same as in 2019 and an increase of 24 percent from 2023.
Safety supervision will also be enhanced to ensure that personnel, vehicles, ships, and aircraft are kept in good condition, Li said, adding that refined plans for dealing with inclement weather and massive passenger flow will be made to improve emergency response capabilities.
Pledging to ensure safe and sound family reunions for Chinese people, Li said the work team will step up efforts to enhance transport services.
The monitoring of China's road network operations will be reinforced, traffic efficiency at toll stations will be improved, and the quality and capacities of service areas will be enhanced.
Services such as group ticket bookings and door-to-door ticket sales will be provided for migrant worker and student communities. Chartered buses and trains will be provided where necessary, the vice minister said.
While many choose to return home for the Spring Festival holiday, a significant number of people opt instead to travel for leisure. Targeted transport capacities will be put in place to strengthen connectivity between tourism and transportation at key tourist attractions, Li said.
The work team will also promote joint operations between airlines, railway operators and coach enterprises to facilitate smooth and effective passenger transfers.