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January 31, 2010

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Spring Festival exodus starts

CHINA yesterday began its annual mass passenger movement for the traditional Lunar New Year, with an expected 2.54 billion journeys taken in the coming 40 days.

The figure is 7.7 percent up from the corresponding period last year, according to the Ministry of Transport.

The growth in number of passengers traveling by plane will be the largest, estimated to be up 12.5 percent year-on-year.

The number of passengers to take buses, ships and trains are also on the increase.

China's official Spring Festival travel season will end on March 10.

Spring Festival is the most important Chinese festival for family reunion. People return home from work or study for a reunion dinner with families on the Lunar New Year's Eve.

The travel season, or Chunyun (spring transportation), is an annual test for China's transport systems.

This year, a real-name train ticket system is being piloted by the Ministry of Railways at stations operated by Guangzhou Railway Group. It is likely to be extended to other parts of China if proved effective.

Yesterday, the first 600,000 travellers with real-name tickets embarked on journeys home from many stations in southern Guangdong Province.

The real-name ticket system is intended to prevent scalpers from hoarding tickets and make it fairer for everyone to buy tickets, said migrant worker Zhou Huatong. "I got the ticket because I came earlier than the others. It's fair enough," he said.

At the platform gate, an inspector separately scans a traveller's ticket and ID card. He stamps the ticket and lets the traveller go when he sees the names and codes on the ticket and ID card match.

"The wait didn't take much longer than before," said traveller Tang Jieyuan.

No delays have so far been reported at any stations as a result of the new checking process.


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