Three billion passenger trips in China for the Year of the Pig

The number of trips is expected to increase by 0.6 per cent. Lunar New Year sees the biggest mass exodus in the world. This year, facial recognition technology will be in place for the first time.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In what is the largest mass migration in the world, hundreds of millions of Chinese will travel on trains, planes, cars, and even on foot to mark the Lunar New Year under the sign of the Pig.

This year’s celebration will last approximately 40 days, from 21 January to 1 March. As people travel to their native towns and villages to celebrate the New Year with friends and relatives, many will encounter problems, from crowded trains and buses to delays in buying tickets online.

Officially Chinese New Year begins on 5 February. Some 2.99 billion trips are expected over this period, up 0.6 per cent from 2018.

On the railway network, 4,787 train trips are expected before the festival and 4,860 after – 5.4 per cent and 5.2 per cent more than last year, respectively.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has scheduled 532,000 flights during those 40 days, 10 per cent more than the previous Lunar New Year rush. A total of 73 million plane trips are expected to be taken in the period, up 12 per cent from 2018.

This year travelling will be different. For one, during this Spring Festival travel season, several high-speed railway routes will be put to the test for the first time.

These include the Jiangzhan Railway and the Kunchu Railway, which opened in July 2018, and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed service and the Hajia Railway, which opened in September 2018.

This will also be the first Lunar New Year period since China began applying its “social credit system” to flights and trains.

Since 1 May, the authorities have been using hi-tech systems such as robot guides, facial recognition and virtual reality navigation to monitor travellers.