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A tough one for 2017 passengers

Reporter: Sun Ye 丨 CCTV.com

12-17-2016 05:25 BJT

Railway ticket bookings for the famously crowded and difficult Chunyun started Thursday. Will this year go down as the most crowded of all? Or, is travel rush finally easing?

Not that crowded, by Chinese standards.

The battle ground for Chunyun tickets is now online.

Authorities say more than 60 percent of railway tickets are being snatched up online. 

"I always buy tickets online and pick them up at the station. No sweat. "

"It's much, much easier to get tickets now. I've been picking up stranded tourists for years. Very few are left without a ticket these days. I'm speaking from experience."

China’s transport authorities say 3 billion trips will be made over the spring festival travel rush…that  is set to start on Jan. 13th. 

But those who have seen the data on the online ticket rush say, it's not all rosy this year.

"Chunyun becomes a rush hour scenario when everyone is trying to secure seats on a hot-ticket route at the same time. What we hope to do here is give them different options. Like with this map, they will see maybe it's better to bypass already congested routes, make a detour or delay. I think people should consider going for their second choices. The country has good transport capacity if passengers are a bit more flexible," said Wang Yinhua, chief engineer of Qihoo 360 ticket service. 

He still expects this year to be tough. As an earlier Chinese New Year means people are cramming all their trips into a shorter window.

"The problem of Chunyun boils down to this, fast urbanization. More people are emigrating to cities. And people need to go home. I think it will get easier in the long run. Just not this year," said Pei Jiyang, railway expert.

But there is no reason to panic.

"China has more than doubled the supply of railway routes in the last seven years. And many of them are high-speed trains that are capable of carrying so many more passengers. The country has also opened up more routes in areas that have traditionally found it hard to get tickets. And the capacity will continue to expand," Pei said.

So, the yearly migration during Chinese New Year. It will still be hard this year. But it may just be one of the few hard ones left.

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