Rail modernizations civilize Spring Festival travel rush
Updated: 2015-02-21 13:24
Staff of G181, high-speed train bound to Qingdao from Beijing, give their Spring Festival greetings to passengers, Feb 18, 2015. [Photo/IC]
CHONGQING - Filing past the armed guards, Mr. Yang was pleasantly surprised to find little overcrowding when he arrived at Beijing West Railway Station for his journey home for the Spring Festival.
Like many millions of Chinese, he was making the traditional homecoming to reunite with family for the most important festive occasion in China. Like most of them, he was to find that recent modernizations of the train network and ticketing system have made the travel rush a much smoother, more civilized experience than the notorious ordeal of days gone by.
China's transportation authorities have estimated that almost 300 million people -- about the population of the United States -- will travel by train during the 40 days from Feb 4 to March 16 this year.
However, the advent of high-speed rail has greatly increased capacity, and modern trains have made the travel experience a lot more comfortable.
Also over the past few years in China, train tickets have been put on sale further in advance, online sales platforms have launched, and real-name ticketing has reduced the amount of scalping. Gone are the days when hopeful travelers would sleep on chaotic station concourses, on the off-chance of getting a ticket from massively oversubscribed services.
And so it was that Mr. Yang, who was too shy to give his full name, prepared to board the G309 from Beijing to southwest China's Chongqing Municipality on Tuesday.
The 40-something computer technician from Chongqing told a Xinhua reporter he knows a few tricks for securing precious train tickets. "The closer to the Spring Festival it is, the easier it is to buy tickets."
After a few minutes, Yang and his fellow travelers began to board. It would be the first time that most of them had made the journey by high-speed rail.