China’s Spring Festival holiday is usually called the busiest time of year for the nation’s transportation system, given that it’s the time when millions return to their hometowns.
Now that holiday seems to have some competition.
The railway bureau in Wuhan, a Central China hub for train travel, said trains passing through were estimated at their daily peak to carry over 940,000 people during the current National Day holiday, rivaling the peak of the Spring Festival rush.
The number of people traveling by high-speed rail during this year’s holiday more than doubled the number of last year’s National Day holiday, according to online travel services provider Ctrip.
Unlike the emphasis on family reunions at the end of the traditional calendar year, the current seven-day holiday is often seen as a time to get away for a short vacation.
“The high-speed rail is very fast and comfortable,” said Wang Changhe, a tourist at Wuhan Train Station. “In recent years, we have been able to go to a different city for vacation, thanks to the high-speed train.”
China’s high-speed system has reached 25,000 kilometers in length, accounting for more than 60 percent of the world’s total. The network expanded to Hong Kong last month, cutting a daylong trip to Beijing to around nine hours.
In Wuhan, travel agencies have noticed more inbound tourists from Hong Kong.
“We are seeing the number of groups from Hong Kong doubling this autumn compared with last year,” said Qi Haitao of Hubei Besttour Travel Corp. “From late September to late November, many of our offerings for Hong Kong group tours have been booked up.”
The growing ease of travel was clear to a man surnamed Yu, 80, who took the high-speed train with his wife for the first time during the National Day holiday this year to visit Yueyang in Hunan province.
“It takes more than three hours on the bus, but just over one hour on the high-speed train,” Yu said.