Passenger transport will be “rather difficult” ahead of Spring Festival next year, the Development and Reform Commission (国家发展改革委员会) states in a public notice of Thursday, according to China National Radio (CNR). Work to prepare for the traditionally large numbers of students, migrant workers and others who travelled to see relatives was particularly difficult because the days of New Year’s Day and the Spring Festival were particularly close to each other in 2012. The commission demands strict transport safety management, crackdowns on resales of tickets [at black-market prices, obviously], on moves to refuse transport to passengers or cheating on them, and other offenses against laws and regulations. Work to prepare for bad weather conditions should also be gradually improved, as freezing rain, snowfall, low temperatures and other calamities were to be expected.
From January 8 to February 16, 2012, the commission estimates that a total of 3.16 billion passenger trips*) would be made – an increase of 9.1 per cent. 235 million trips would be made by rail, 2.8 billion by bus or car (or any other motor vehicles), 43.5 million trips by ship or boat, and 34.9 million trips by plane – increases by 6.1 per cent, 9.5 per cent, 3 per cent, and 7 per cent respectively.
Official estimates or projections apparently lagged behind the actual numbers in January 2011, when the Ministry of Transport estimated that 2.85 billion passenger trips would be made back then. If 2.85 billion trips during the same season early this year would have been 2.85 billion, the increase in trips as projected for January 2012 would be more than 10.5 per cent.
Blizzards in China stranded hundreds of thousands of travellers in January 2008.
*) These are huge numbers – but obviously, this refers to the number of trips made, not the number of travellers. They include travels at the beginning, and returns near the end of the season – and many travellers will use a combination of rail, road, boat, and plane trips, which adds to the numbers. And many of these trips will be rather short – the statistics may include small bus trips from one end of a town to the other.