Chinese New Year travels to top 3.6 billion: official
Lunar New Year travellers pack a train bound for the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing, a journey of 32 hours, at the West Railway Station in Beijing on January 31, 2013
Officials anticipate 200 million more journeys will be made than last year and warn there will be significant strain on the transport system, with some travellers as usual struggling to get a ticket.
The Spring Festival, which falls on January 31 this year, is the most important traditional holiday in China and often the only chance in a year for the country's large pool of poorer migrant workers to go home to see their children and parents.
Students also do so, and it is a peak tourism period as travellers take advantage of the holidays.
"Our current transport capacity cannot fully meet the peak demand during the Spring Festival despite the rapid development of infrastructure in recent years," said Lian Weiliang, a vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body.
"Therefore it will still be difficult to get a ticket in some areas during the period," he told reporters at a briefing, according to a transcript.
Peak travel for the holiday period begins this Thursday and lasts for 40 days, Lian said.
Most journeys -- 3.2 billion -- are expected to travel by road, up 5.8 percent year on year, transport ministry spokesman Liang Xiaoan said.
The railway system is expected to see 258 million passenger trips, up 7.9 percent from a year ago, said Hu Yadong, a vice general manager of the newly established China Railway Corporation.
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