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February 20, 2010

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Rail stations, highways rushed as holiday crowds move again

RAILWAY stations and roads across China have seen a drastic increase in passengers and drivers since Thursday as millions return to work or study as the week-long Spring Festival holiday draws to an end.

The Beijing Railways Bureau said yesterday the four rail stations in the capital received 150,000 passengers on Thursday and this number was expected to balloon.

Most passengers were tourists, migrant workers and students whose travel time was under 10 hours, it said.

Long-distance travelers are expected in the next wave, bringing pressure on downtown traffic in Beijing.

The public transport authority of Beijing has mobilized more buses to ensure passengers can leave rail stations as quickly as possible.

Trains carried away 373,400 people from Hubei Province in central China on Thursday, up 20.5 percent against the same day last year.

The volume is expected to rise significantly overnight and today, according to the railways bureau in Wuhan, the provincial capital.

The rail station of Hefei, capital of Anhui Province in east China, has sent off about 30,000 passengers daily since Thursday to the major destinations of Beijing, Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong Province, and other big cities.

The station has set up 20 additional ticket booths to meet the booming demand.

In east China's Shandong Province, the volume of coach passengers has mirrored the rail rush. In peak periods, more than 90,000 people are expected to take buses leaving Jinan, the provincial capital, according to the city's long-distance coach station.

The station is capable of handling a maximum volume of 100,000 passengers a day.

"I left home at 6am to catch the bus, but every coach was full," said a migrant worker who planned to seek a job in Guangzhou.

Railways served about 5.44 million passengers nationwide on Thursday, an increase of 12.5 percent over the same day last year, the Ministry of Railways said yesterday.

The ministry said the number of long-distance travelers increased markedly as more decided to make an earlier return trip to avoid the rush.

About 210 million people would travel during the 40-day peak period beginning on January 30, a 9.5-percent rise compared with a year earlier.


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