Smoother, faster ride home for Spring Festival

Updated: 2016-01-25 07:58


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Smoother, faster ride home for Spring Festival

Passengers run to catch a train in Hefei, Anhui province, Jan 24, 2016. [Photo/CFP]

BEIJING - High-speed trains with comfort, Starbucks coffee onboard, free WIFI in stations, and phone apps for ticket purchase. As the Spring Festival travel rush kicked off on Sunday, hundreds of millions of Chinese found that their journeys for holiday homecomings have become much smoother and faster.

This year's Spring Festival travel rush reflected how China's economic boom, huge investment in infrastructure and fast growth of information technologies totally redefined the once gruelling experience of going home for the Chinese New Year, which falls on February 8 this year.


At Shanghai Railway Station, the ticket office is no longer crowded. In previous years' travel rush, the ticket office was crammed every night with tens of thousands of people who had to line up for the whole night to buy a ticket.

But this year, about 83 percent of tickets were purchased online.

China's railway service has been adapting to hi-tech trends by making itself accessible through websites and mobile phone apps, said Zhu Wenzhong, passenger traffic director of Shanghai Railway Bureau. Passengers now could order onboard meals on the phone app before boarding. Drinks made by Starbucks are available on certain trains.

Across China, free WIFI is offered in some train stations and electronic ticketing machines were placed in bus stations. An online system that integrates bus operators in 13 provinces has been launched.

The Ministry of Transport said this year it started to use big data to analyze the Spring Festival traffic.

Chinese car-hailing app Didi rolled out a car-pooling service that can pair travelling needs across the country, making it possible for drivers to take on others when travelling home for the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Train stations have also been modernized. In the city of Nanchang, a railway hub in east China, passengers used to wait outside Nanchang Railway Station as there was not enough room indoors during the Spring Festival travel rush. But this year, they can wait inside the station as a high-speed train station was just added to the city.

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