Increased demand for vacation travel could indicate economic recovery
China's railway sector has increased passenger services to cater to increased travel demand during the upcoming May Day holiday, adding more than 1,500 trains per day, the national railway operator, China State Railway Group, said on Saturday.
From Thursday to May 4, about 10,500 passenger trains will run every day, 1,500 services more than usual. Among them are bullet trains running at night, such as from Beijing to Shenyang in Liaoning province, Taiyuan in Shanxi province, and Xi'an in Shaanxi province, as well as Hangzhou in Zhejiang province to Zhengzhou in Henan province.
According to the company, this is to meet increased demand for travel during the five-day May Day holiday, which starts next Saturday. It is the first long national holiday after the Spring Festival, and travel begins early.
Long-distance passengers will travel at the beginning and the end of the holiday. Short-distance travelers will be most present during the middle of the holiday, and with so many passengers traveling at the same time, there will be pressure on services.
According to rail ticket booking system 12306, as of Saturday afternoon, 46.57 million tickets had been sold for the holiday period. Popular routes include Beijing to Shanghai, Beijing to Qingdao, Chengdu to Xi'an, Guangzhou to Nanning and Guangzhou to Changsha.
Recently, some netizens have complained about the difficulty of getting tickets for the holiday.
On Sunday morning, there were none left from Beijing to Qingdao on April 28 and 29, the beginning of the holiday, even though nearly 30 services are running between the two cities. Return tickets from Qingdao to Beijing are also sold out on May 3, and only 2 tickets are available on May 2, according to 12306.
In all, an additional 150 long-distance passenger trains have been arranged. An additional 54 bullet trains and regular-speed trains are planned for popular tourist routes such as Beijing to Changchun and Fuzhou to Shenzhen.
An increased number of bullet sleeper trains have also been scheduled. From May 2 to May 4, an additional 36 trains will run along routes such as Shanghai to Guangzhou, Beijing to Shenzhen and Beijing to Kunming.
The company has asked regional railway operators to add trains according to passenger flow, with schedules tailored to meet short-haul demand.
China Railway Chengdu Group, a regional railway operator, will add 30 bullet trains at night between Chengdu and Guiyang, Chengdu and Chongqing, as well as Chongqing and Guiyang.
China Railway Jinan Group will run 82 bullet trains between Jinan and Zibo, as Zibo has recently become a popular travel destination.
While some have trouble buying tickets, early planners are avoiding traveling at peak periods.
Hou Qingjuan will leave Beijing for Liaocheng on Thursday.
"I reserved the ticket two weeks ahead and to avoid peak travel, I took a day off to leave early," she said.
"At least it shows that people are willing and able to travel, maybe that means the economy is improving after the epidemic," Hou said.