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January 30, 2010

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The Spring Festival rush is on

THE annual Chinese Spring Festival rush has begun with more than 150,000 passengers expected to leave the city by rail today. The two city railway stations sent about 140,000 on their way yesterday.

With many still queueing to buy tickets, passengers laden down with luggage began to arrive at the railway stations early yesterday.

"More will come in the coming week," said Zhao Jun, deputy director of the Shanghai Railway Bureau.

The ticket sales peak will continue until Monday and passenger volume will peak from February 10, rail officials said.

In Shanghai Railway Station's north square, where there are 200 ticket booths, railway police aiming to prevent scalping were taking photos and recording IDs.

Police said they would investigate "buyers frequently showing up" to find whether they are scalpers. Over 23 scalpers have been caught this year.

Police are also working to spare buyers an overnight wait to be at the head of the queue when the booths open the next day. Officers are writing queue numbers on buyers' hands and recording their IDs at the same time.

The next day, buyers only have to come a hour early and queue according to their numbers after being identified.

"How lucky I am," said a man surnamed Qu who yesterday bought a ticket to Henan Province's Zhengzhou for February 8.

On Qu's hand was written 5-200, meaning he had secured fifth position at booth No. 200 the day before.

Yesterday, 11-day advance tickets to cities such Zhengzhou, Dalian and Lanzhou, sold out within 10 minutes.

In the south square of the station, rail authorities set up three passenger lounges and another one underground to ease the expected congestion inside the station.

About 25.63 million passengers will leave or come to the city this year by rail, plane, bus or ship during the 40-day surge, a 5.5 percent rise on last year, Shanghai traffic authorities said.

In the city itself, passenger volume is expected to reach 13.38 million a day during the holiday, a 4 percent rise on last year.


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