Severe weather disrupts travel rush

Updated: 2016-02-15 08:31

By Xu Wei in Beijing and Zou Hong in Dalian(China Daily)

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Severe weather disrupts travel rush

People jostle in line at the check-in counters at Dalian International Airport in Liaoning province on Sunday.[Zou Hong/China Daily]

Lingering rain and snow forced flight cancellations and closed highways in Northeast and South China on Saturday and Sunday, as millions of travelers returned home after the Spring Festival holiday.

More than 10 million journeys were expected to be made on the railways on Sunday, slightly lower than the record 10.3 million made on Saturday, according to China Railway Corp.

Blizzard conditions in Dalian, Liaoning province, resulted in about 20,000 passengers being stranded on Saturday at Dalian International Airport, where more than 300 flights were delayed or canceled. By Sunday afternoon, services had resumed and 73 flights had taken off and landed, airport management said.

Snow also hit parts of Jilin, Hebei and Shandong provinces on Saturday, forcing the closure of a number of highways. Zhejiang and Fujian provinces saw heavy rain.

The flight cancellations and road closures forced many travelers in the northeast to seek refunds for their flight tickets and switch to trains.

A passenger at Dalian Railway Station who gave only her surname, Yang, said her flight was scheduled for 11 pm on Saturday but did not take off due to the blizzard. "I had no other option but to choose the railway, as I need to rush back to work," she said.

China Railway Corp said more than 60 percent of trains serving the Spring Rush - the annual 40-day travel peak - are now high-speed services, running at up to 300 kilometers an hour. China has the world's largest high-speed rail network, covering a total of 19,000 km.

Zhou Yuan, deputy director of Nanchang Railway Station in the Jiangxi provincial capital, said the station had been upgraded along with the development of high-speed rail.

"Compared with 10 years ago, the environment for those buying tickets and waiting for trains has improved a lot," he said. "With the launch of online booking and self-service ticket machines, people don't have to wait in long lines. The waiting halls have also been enlarged."

Some 138 million journeys were made via road, railway, air and water between Jan 24 and Feb 12, according to the Ministry of Transportation.

The annual Spring Rush, which this year lasts from Jan 24 to March 3, sees millions use public transport to journey across the country for family reunions and new year celebrations.

Xinhua contributed to this story.