3.6 billion trips to be made during Chinese New Year: Chinese officials

A worker walks among newly-made red lanterns as workers prepare for the sales boom ahead of the Spring Festival at a family workshop in Wenxian county, Henan province on Jan 7, 2014. A total of 3.6 billion trips are expected to be made during th
A worker walks among newly-made red lanterns as workers prepare for the sales boom ahead of the Spring Festival at a family workshop in Wenxian county, Henan province on Jan 7, 2014. A total of 3.6 billion trips are expected to be made during the Chinese New Year holiday, officials said Tuesday, as workers head home in the world's largest human migration. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - A total of 3.6 billion trips are expected to be made during the Chinese New Year holiday, officials said Tuesday, as workers head home in the world's largest human migration.

Officials anticipate 200 million more journeys will be made than last year and warn there will be significant strain on the transport system, with some travellers as usual struggling to get a ticket.

The Spring Festival, which falls on Jan 31 this year, is the most important traditional holiday in China and often the only chance in a year for the country's large pool of poorer migrant workers to go home to see their children and parents.

Students also do so, and it is a peak tourism period as travellers take advantage of the holidays.

"Our current transport capacity cannot fully meet the peak demand during the Spring Festival despite the rapid development of infrastructure in recent years," said Mr Lian Weiliang, a vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body.

"Therefore it will still be difficult to get a ticket in some areas during the period," he told reporters at a briefing, according to a transcript.

Peak travel for the holiday period begins this Thursday and lasts for 40 days, Mr Lian said.

Most journeys - 3.2 billion - are expected to travel by road, up 5.8 percent year on year, transport ministry spokesman Liang Xiaoan said.

The railway system is expected to see 258 million passenger trips, up 7.9 percent from a year ago, said Mr Hu Yadong, a vice-general manager of the newly established China Railway Corporation.