Smoother, faster ride home for Spring Festival

Updated: 2016-01-25 07:58


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Smoother, faster ride home for Spring Festival

Two girls look through the window of a train in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, Jan 24, 2016. [Photo/CFP]


This year, Gong Xinyi, a college student in Shanghai, traveled back to her hometown in Jiangxi Province with only one third of the time that she used to spend.

A newly added high-speed route has linked Gong's hometown with Shanghai and shortened her journey to three hours. Last year, she had to take a 7-hour-train ride and an additional 3-hour bus trip.

Gong's faster Spring Festival journey is made possible as China has been investing heavily to expand its high-speed train network which is already the world's largest.

Of all the trains serving in the Spring Festival travel rush this year, more than 60 percent are high-speed trains that can run up to 350 kilometers per hour.

Around 3,300 kilometers of new lines were added to the high-speed railway network last year, bringing the total length to 19,000 kilometers, which make up 60 percent of the world's total.

From 2011 to 2015, the period in which China's 12th Five-Year Plan was implemented, fixed-asset investment in railways amounted to 3.58 trillion yuan (544 billion U.S. dollars), up 47.3 percent from the 11th five-year-plan period.

Sheng Guangzu, general manager of the China Railway Corp., said China plans to invest 800 billion yuan in railways in 2016, especially in less-developed central and western regions.

High-speed rail service continues to carry more weight in the Spring Festival travel rush because more Chinese now can afford to travel in style after the country's average disposable income surged by more than seven percent every year over the last decade.

Chinese people's growing ability to afford a faster journey has also fueled an air travel boom.

Chinese airlines are expected to carry 54.55 million passengers in the Spring Festival travel rush, up 11 percent from the last year.

Air China said during the Spring Festival travel rush, it would add 2,432 flights and operate an average of 1,160 flights daily.

China Southern Airlines planned to add over 6,000 flights on 155 international and domestic routes during the Spring Festival travel rush.

Effort has also been made to ensure a faster trip back on the ground. As no toll way fee is charged nationwide during the seven-day Spring Festival holiday, traffic jams on highways had trapped thousands of cars for hours in previous years.

Zheng Zongjie, an engineer at the road network center of the Ministry of Transport, said this year car drivers would no longer need to pick up the tickets at toll gates to make traffic smoother, as they did during previous free-hours.

Urban transportation would also be improved with better arrangement of metro, bus and taxi in the Spring Festival travel rush, the authorities said.