Passengers catch a train at Nanjing Railway Station on Tuesday. [Photo by Lang Congliu/China Daily]
The world's largest annual human migration, the Spring Festival travel rush, will be even larger this year.
People will make a total of 2.98 billion trips nationwide during the annual travel peak, from Jan 13 to Feb 21, up 2.2 percent year-on-year, according to an official forecast released on Wednesday.
Twelve percent of trips will be made by railway, 84.6 percent by road, 1.4 percent by water and 2 percent by air, according to a report by the National Intelligent Transport Systems Center of Engineering and Technology in China, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Transport.
The total volume of passengers taking trains and airplanes will increase by about 10 percent year-on-year, the report said.
The expected peaks are on Jan 25, three days before Lunar New Year's Day, and on Feb 2, the final day of the national holiday period.
Before the festival, the most popular routes are departing from big cities and arriving in suburban areas, mostly carrying migrant workers returning home. After the festival, the migration pattern will reverse, from medium and small cities to big cities.
Bullet trains have become a popular choice, the report said, with the most popular rail lines including Shanghai-Hangzhou, Shenzhen-Guangzhou, Chongqing-Chengdu and Beijing-Shijiazhuang.
Shen Peilan, who lives in Shanghai, will be taking part in the migration. She has booked a high-speed train ticket from Beijing to Shanghai for Jan 26.
"I usually fly between Shanghai and Beijing, but I'm worried about the weather conditions this winter, and flights are hard to predict and likely to be canceled or delayed," the 30-year-old said. "That is why I booked a bullet train ticket this time.
"It was not as hard to book a train ticket as many said it would be, but I guess that is because Beijing to Shanghai is not a popular Spring Festival travel rush route."
Pang Jun, 30, from Hunan province, is not as lucky. He said: "I have to make three trips this Spring Festival: from Beijing to Jiangsu, to visit my girlfriend's parents; from Jiangsu to Hunan, to visit my parents; and from Hunan to Beijing. I will be more exhausted than when I'm working."
It is the first time Pang will visit his girlfriend's home during Spring Festival. "It will be a double challenge in the future."
He and his girlfriend plan to take trains and airplanes.
"By air is expensive, but fast. Train is our top choice, but all tickets from Beijing to Jiangsu province are sold out," he said, adding that they are holding on to the hope they can snap up some return tickets.