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Mass Migration Home In Full Swing For Lunar New Year In China

posted 24 Jan 2014, 06:45 by Mpelembe   [ updated 24 Jan 2014, 06:46 ]

Hundreds of millions of Chinese make the trip home to see families for the Lunar New Year, stretching railways, roads and airways to their limits.

BEIJING, CHINA (JANUARY 24, 2014) (REUTERS) -  Hundreds of millions of migrant Chinese formed what is often described as the world's biggest annual migration of people when making their journey home on Friday (January 24).

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About 3.62 billion trips are expected to be made by air, railway and road during this year's 40-day Lunar New Year rush between January 16 and February 24, 200 million more than the previous year, according to Xinhua, quoting the National Reform and Development Commission.

Nearly 258 million Chinese are estimated to travel by rail during the period, Xinhua added.

The holiday travel period usually starts two weeks before the week-long Spring Festival holiday, marked by China's Lunar New Year celebration on January 31 this year.

Crowds of people dragging suitcases and carrying bags flocked to the main train station in downtown Beijing on Friday.

For many, obtaining tickets had been a hassle.

"I have been working for the whole year, now it is time to go back home and see my kids. It was very difficult to buy a ticket. I had to ask many people to help me book one online, in the end, one of my colleagues managed to snap up a seat ticket for me. The sleeper berth tickets were already sold out. It will take me over 20 hours to ride home," said Li Yanxia, a 37-year-old migrant worker from northeastern Heilongjiang province.

Despite the difficulties of buying tickets and long exhausting hours on the train, theLunar New Year provided to many the only opportunity to reunite with their family in a year.

Wang Xiaojie, 39, who works in the southern province of Fujian, has to spend 48 hours on the road before reaching his hometown of Inner Mongolia in the north.

"It was extremely hard to buy tickets. I managed to make reservations online. I have to transfer three times to get home. The Lunar New Year is coming, I want to spend the holiday with my parents. I will need to spend 48 hours on the road," Wang said.

China Railway Corporation says it will increase its passenger transportation capacity by adding more than 600 extra trains during the seasonal travel rush.

Meanwhile, China's domestic flights will increase to more than 62,000 every week from the current 50,000, while international flights will increase 20 percent to more than 9,600 weekly, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The administration says Chinese airlines will provide at least 1.1 million seats every day to meet the travel peak.