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Published: Monday December 23, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday December 23, 2013 MYT 8:08:24 AM

Millions to begin quest for CNY train tickets

Chinese who will be travelling home for Chinese New Year will soon begin their quests for trans-city train tickets.

The annual travel dubbed the mass Chinese New Year exodus will see millions of Chinese heading home to celebrate the most significant festival.

The large volume of passenger flow by land, air, and water is even described as the world’s largest annual human migration.

“Qiang piao,” which literally means grab the tickets, and “chun yun”, which stands for travelling during the Spring Festival, are hot keywords around this time of the year.

With Jan 16 being the first day of “chun yun”, railway travellers can begin to purchase their tickets online or via phone as early as today (Dec 23) for the extra train schedule arranged just for the festival, or Saturday (Dec 28) for the existing schedule.

The tickets will be available for purchase at the train stations, ticketing offices or self-ticketing kiosks two days after they are released online.

Luna Zhang, 25, recalled a bitter experience where all tickets on her preferred travelling date and time were sold out within half a day after the tickets were released.

Since getting the tickets for the Chinese New Year’s eve or the first day of Chinese New Year is almost a mission impossible, she is planning to leave Beijing at least a few days before the festival.

“It will be easier to get the tickets for the less-popular time slots,” the 25-year-old public relations executive from Inner Mongolia said.

If worst comes to worst, she would buy a standing ticket and then hope for a seat to free up later.

“I can top-up the price difference on the spot,” Zhang said.

She also preferred to purchase the tickets at a ticketing office nearby instead of trying her luck on the Internet.

“I have to be on standby and then grab the tickets really fast if I want to buy them online,” she said.

Earlier this month, the China Railway Corporation has launched a ticket purchasing mobile app as an alternative to the government online train reservation site that is often overloaded during peak seasons.

Due to the heavy traffic on the official site, third-party companies have developed plug-ins to assist passengers to snatch tickets.

Users can submit their details well ahead of the official release dates and the plug-ins will purchase the tickets on their behalf as soon as the tickets are available.

However, Wang Mingzhe, a research associate from China Academy of Railway Services, told The Beijing News that these automatic booking services would be blocked if they are found to be affecting the operations of the ticketing system.

He was quoted in Global Times that these plug-ins created inequality among the ticket buyers and placed excessive pressure on the official site.

The first day of Chinese New Year falls on Jan 31 next year. It marks the beginning of the week-long public holidays in China.

The eve of Chinese New Year will be a normal working day according to the 2014 holiday schedule.

The decision has caused great dissatisfaction among the people because traditionally, it is the day Chinese enjoy reunion dinner with their families.

The holiday arrangement is blamed for inconveniencing those who live far away from their hometowns.

Tags / Keywords: Regional, Chinese New Year


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