Beijing (AsiaNews) - Chinese New Year celebrations began today, and could break every record in the terms of number of trips.
The Transport Ministry expects about 2.4 billion road trips, 295 million rail journeys and 47.5 million passengers by plane as people return to their hometowns for family reunions.
Unofficially, an estimated 2.5 billion trips will be made for a population of 1.3 billion.
Internal migrants represent the bulk of the travellers, going to and fro their hometowns and villages to celebrate the New Year in family before going back to their place of work.
The holiday takes place over a 40-day period. The government allows workers to take a ten-day break between now and early March. Overnight on 18 (Ash Wednesday) and 19 February, the new moon will appear and the New Year start. According to the Chinese Zodiac, this will be the Year of the Goat, replacing the Year of the Horse.
In view of the situation, the authorities are laying on extra services to try cope with the extra demand, providing 86 more train services to Sichuan, Heilongjiang, Zhejiang, Hubei, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces during the peak period.
Some 41 million passengers are expected to go through Guangzhou, the capital of the rich southern province of Guangdong. This is a 12.5 per cent increase over last year. Rail authorities in Guangzhou expect 120,000 passengers to take the train each day.
In Shanghai, China's most open city with the largest expat community, 5.1 million passengers are expected to travel by rail before February 18, Lunar New Year's Eve.
Just over 10 million trips are expected to be taken from the city's two airports during the 40-day travel rush.
The authorities are also ramping up security at busy transport hubs by boosting the number of police agents for the holiday season by 20 per cent.