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Tens of millions on the move as China Spring Festival travel season starts

From : Xinhua

Liu warned of the likelihood of heavy snow and icy rain that could hamper travel while vowing greater efforts to avoid another travel disaster, as was seen in early 2008 when unprecedented heavy snow and freezing rain inundated the south of the country, bringing traffic to a standstill during the peak holiday season.

To better cope with the busiest traffic of the year, railway authorities, bus companies and airlines across the country are increasing transport capacity.

China's civil aviation regulator said Sunday that it has given the green light for domestic airlines to add 14,000 flights to meet massive passenger flow.

Railway authorities have long been under pressure to increase capacity and improve ticketing services, as many citizens find it extremely hard to secure a single ticket during major holidays.

About 4,100 trains are running each day during the Spring Festival travel rush this year, 260 more than a year earlier, according to Hu Yadong, vice minister of railways.

The Ministry of Railways began allowing customers to book all tickets online or by phone late last year in order to ease the ordeal of buying tickets.

During major holidays in the past, people would wait for hours in long lines before getting to the ticket sales windows, only to find that tickets were sold out. Many even had to pay extra to buy from ticket scalpers.

However, the new booking services are not as effective as expected. Many have complained that the ticket booking website often crashes under heavy traffic and the phone service cannot be easily reached, urging the ministry to improve the booking services.

The new booking services also drew criticism from rural migrant workers and senior citizens in cities, as many of them don't use the Internet or have the online banking services needed to pay for the train tickets.

But there are also good news. Rampant ticket scalping is better curbed this year as the railway authorities introduced a real-name ticket purchasing system nationwide for the first time during this travel rush.

All passengers now have their ID cards checked before getting on trains to see if they buy tickets with the same ID.

"To better curb ticket scalping, strict check-ups when getting on trains are needed," said Gu Hongqiong, a railway police officer in Shanghai.

"With the real-name system, there are few ticket scalpers," said Li Chengxiao, who was lining up to buy a ticket at the Lhasa railway station in Tibet Sunday morning.

The migrant from Sichuan said he bought a ticket from a scalper last year. "I called a ticket scalper this year, but he told me that he could no longer get tickets due to the real-name system," he said.