China’s Spring Festival travel rush started Monday, unleashing the country’s largest seasonal migration of people as families reunite for China’s most important traditional holiday.
The travel rush began 15 days ahead of the Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on February 5 this year.
In the following 40 days, from January 21 to March 1, nearly 3 billion trips are to be made via China’s transport system, as people set off to family gatherings or travel around the country.
China launched 10 new railways at the end of 2018, expanding its operational length of high-speed railways to 29,000 km.
The country’s aviation authority plans to schedule 532,000 flights during the travel rush, an increase of 10 percent year on year.
China’s public transport system has introduced new technologies to increase efficiency during the travel rush.
In southern China’s Guangdong Province, some railway stations pioneered “ticketless travel.”
Starting on Monday, passengers can simply swipe their phones to board the inter-city high-speed railway connecting the provincial capital of Guangzhou and the technological powerhouse of Shenzhen.
Instead of buying tickets online and collecting them at the stations, travelers can pass ticket checks by scanning QR codes using their phones and pay afterward.
Huang Xiaozhong, deputy chief of the East Guangzhou Railway Station, said passengers can register the application via Alipay, the payment platform of the Chinese internet giant Alibaba, and they get a QR code, which is valid for three hours.
“The QR payment only takes a few minutes, compared with 20 to 30 minutes for passengers to purchase, pick up the tickets and enter the station in the traditional way,” said Wang Lihui, who is in charge of the station’s ticket sales office.
Wang said the new payment method reduces crowding in front of ticket booths and ticket checking machines.
In Shanghai as well as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces in eastern China, 464 ticket checking machines in railway and coach terminals allow swift passage with facial recognition technology to verify passengers.