A nation on the move during holiday

Updated: 2012-01-06 08:07

By Xu Wei (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Authorities said ensuring safety is the main task during the Spring Festival travel period as the transportation system nationwide braces for a tough test.

China's annual Spring Festival travel rush will begin on Sunday, and authorities estimate 3.158 billion passenger journeys will be made during the 40-day travel period.

Passenger flow will increase by 9.1 percent from last year and "the fact that the New Year holiday and the Spring Festival fall close together will further toughen the challenge," said Liu Tienan, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, in a nationwide video and teleconference on the Spring Festival rush.

Feng Zhenglin, vice-minister of the Ministry of Transport, stressed the need for measures to ensure road safety, after a road accident in Hunan province claimed 13 lives on Tuesday and another in Guizhou province on Wednesday claimed 18 lives.

The Spring Festival, which begins on Jan 23, is considered China's most important traditional festival, and people nationwide will travel for family reunions.

Major passenger traffic will rush from Beijing, the Yangtze River delta and the Pearl River delta before the festival.

After the festival, pressure on the transportation system will increase in provinces with a large number of migrant workers.

The Ministry of Railways warns train service may fall short of demand.

Hu Yadong, railways vice-minister, said 2,064 temporary trains will run daily to meet the increasing demand, and the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway will run for a longer time each day.

More measures will be taken to counter the problems the railways' new online ticket booking system has encountered due to huge Web traffic.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China estimates 34.88 million passenger trips will be made during the 40-day period, a 7 percent increase from last year.

The authority vows to further improve the punctuality rate of flights, assuring they will take off in no more than 30 minutes after the cabin doors close.

For passengers from Taiwan, the aviation authority will arrange another 412 flights during the festival.

Authorities warn of road accidents caused by drivers breaking travel regulations and freezing and snowy weather conditions during the Spring Festival.

The State Administration of Work Safety says that 90 percent of the major road accidents in the past five years were caused by overloading, speeding, and overtired or wrong-way drivers.