Optimized epidemic prevention, smart tech support China's Spring Festival travel rush to see 110m railway trips
Published: Jan 22, 2023 01:26 PM
Passengers line up to board trains at Shenzhen North railway station in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, Jan. 18, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Passengers line up to board trains at Shenzhen North railway station in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, Jan. 18, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

China is estimated to see about 110 million railway trips during its Spring Festival travel rush, also known as Chunyun, in last 15 days ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, a time for epic family reunions in China. China is reinvigorated in during the world's largest human migration after the country optimized its COVID-19 response in December 2022.

China is striving to deliver smooth Spring Festival trips after its COVID-19 response shift, as national railway and aviation operators have planned ahead to boost transportation efficiency to cope with rising passenger flows.

Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the importance of Spring Festival travel to people's immediate interests, economic development, and social stability when he extended festive greetings to all Chinese people and virtually talked to travelers and staff members at a high-speed railway station on Wednesday.

Xi said that this year's Spring Festival travel rush is the first after the country entered a new COVID response phase, with a major recovery in passenger flows. He urged efforts to ensure safe and sound trips for the people and a smooth and orderly flow of essential supplies.

From January 7 to 21, it is expected that there will be more than 110 million railway trips in China, up 28 percent year-on-year. Newly opened railway stations across the country in 2022, including the Beijing Fengtai railway station, have boosted the maximum passenger capacity of railway services by 11 percent compared with the travel rush in 2019, the People's Daily reported on Sunday.

The country, moreover, saw some 4,100 kilometers of new rail tracks were laid in 2022, with over half of them for high-speed trains.

Moreover, China has taken multi-pronged measures against risks from COVID-19 infections, adverse weather events, and dysfunctions of transport facilities to ensure safe and sound Spring Festival transport.

While promoting paperless, contactless services such as online ticket sales and self-service ticket checking, transport operators nationwide are intensifying ventilation and, disinfection at railway stations, expressway tollgates and other public transport venues to minimize the infection risks, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Smart technology has also been applied in national railway networks. 

Digital and intelligent travel experiences have become a highlight of this year's Spring Festival travel service, Huang Xin, director of the Passenger Transport Department of China Railway, said. For example, during this year's Spring Festival travel rush, the number of railway stations carrying out online food delivery services has increased from 55 to 76, covering railway hubs and stations with large passenger flows throughout the country, said Huang.

Special trains for migrant workers reach an even wider range of routes via more diverse types of trains this year. 

On January 14, more than 300 migrant workers took the first special train from Northwest China's Shaanxi Province to go back to Southwest China's Sichuan Province. On the special train, the "Fu" character window sticker and cute rabbit decals lit up the atmosphere. Volunteers played allegro and performed magic tricks, and the carriage was full of song and laughter.

Prevention measures have been strictly implemented in the carriages, while ventilation and disinfection of key premises were strengthened, and environmental samplings were regularly collected to minimize the probability of cross infection.

China's railway sector strives to create healthier, comfier and safer travel conditions for the customers' returning home for the Spring Festival, and it adds vitality to the economic recovery of a China "on the way."