The Spring Festival travel rush officially kicked off today amid reports that this year's might be the busiest travel period in Chengdu ever.
This year, the Chengdu Railway Bureau estimates that 18.5 million travelers are expected to make train journeys during the 40-day Spring Festival travel period, up 2 million from last year. Peak days are expected to see 650,000 passengers on trains departing from the province.
Spring Festival train travel is expected to continue well into March. The most popular destinations are Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and the eastern cities in Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
The ticket-buying frenzy began on January 10, when lines in excess of 20 meters were reported at both ticket-sale halls of Chengdu's North Train Station.
Meanwhile, from the 11th of this month, the number of daily flights departing from Shuangliu Airport had increased from 470 to 570 flights and traffic volume had increased from a daily average of 50,000 travelers to 70,000.
The peak is expected to last through February 2, the last day of the lunar year, and then quiet down for the first four days of the lunar year, February 3 to 6, before picking up while the bulk of travelers return from February 8 to 10. The Spring Festival 2011 travel period won't be officiallyfinished, however, until February 27.
Another 2.1 million travelers are expected to make their journeys out of Chengdu via the roadways, including personal vehicles and long-distance buses.
Mobile ticket trucks sell train tickets to students at the Southwest Petroleum University in the Chengdu suburb of Xindu.
This year, planning and arranging train and bus travel is being slightly simplified for passengers. Mobile ticket-selling stations have been making rounds to various schools and factories so that students and workers can purchase tickets without having to travel far distances and wait in long queues.
Bus travelers are able to book tickets up to seven days in advance and for the first time passengers may book tickets online or via phone by providing an ID number. Tickets must be collected at the station at least one hour prior to the train's departure time. Phone numbers for the major passenger stations are as follows:
Xinnanmen Passenger Distribution Center 85433609
North Passenger Transit Center 83175758
Chengdu Bus Station 84716404
City East Station 85950512
Finally, a hotline for price-gouging complaints has been established. The number is 12358.