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February 6, 2013

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Wet weather adds to traffic woes as city braces for peak holiday rush

WITH less than a week to go before the Spring Festival, the travel rush will hit its peak today with more than 450,000 people set to leave the city by air, rail and long distance buses.

The number is likely to add to the traffic congestion, made worse by the wet weather.

Officials at the Shanghai Railway Station said more than 350,000 passengers left by train every day recently from the city's three railway stations.

Passengers unable to get direct tickets are finding newer ways to reach to their destinations.

A 27-year-old student in Shanghai claimed he bought eight train tickets after failing to get a direct train ticket.

"I think I can reach home faster this way although it is not cheaper," said the student, surnamed Wang, whose hometown is in southwest China's Sichuan Province. Wang posted pictures of the tickets online that attracted many comments from netizens.

Wang said "the direct train takes more than 30 hours but he could be home in 17 hours on different but faster train services." He said he paid 640 yuan (US$102) for all the tickets.

The railway operator also reminded passengers to collect their tickets, which were booked online, with about 170,000 tickets lying unclaimed.

Inclement weather have also added to the travel woes. More than 10 trains were delayed due to heavy snowfall in north China yesterday.

The Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway was also affected, and its speed slowed down because of snowfall, the Shanghai Railway Bureau said yesterday. Trains on Shanghai-Nanjing and east China's Anhui Province were also hit.

Over 100,000 people are leaving the city by air every day since Friday from the city's two airports, China Eastern Airlines said yesterday.

Most flight tickets to central, north and east China's cities have been sold out despite extra flights being deployed on the routes, the Shanghai-based carrier said.

The airline said flight delays are likely in areas along the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers because of snow.

The peak period for travel will be from today until Friday. The peak time for passengers returning to the city is February 15, the China Southern Airlines said.

On international routes, flight tickets to Vancouver from major Chinese cities were nearly sold out, while there were still a few available to Los Angeles and London, the China Southern said yesterday.

Elevated roads were also chock-a-block with vehicles in downtown as many others took to road. The ongoing construction projects have only made matters worse ahead of the Spring Festival.

Vehicles were moving at a slower speed because of poor visibility and a jump in the number of accidents.

Each week, traffic police receive about 40,000 reports of traffic accidents - a 7 percent rise from last year.

Bus operators have also announced that they will add night shift bus services.


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