Masses in China head back to hometown ahead of CNY

BEIJING, CHINA (REUTERS) - The world's largest mass human migration continued on Thursday (Feb 4) as Chinese residents rushed to catch a train back home to celebrate the Chinese New Year with their families.

The 40-day travel frenzy surrounding the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, which is often described as the world's biggest annual migration of people, began on January 24 this year, and will last until March 3.

During this period, the estimated total volume of passengers is expected to reach more than 2.91 billion, up by 3.6 per cent year-on-year, said the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner.

China's state broadcaster CCTV reported that it would witness the peak of the migration on Thursday (Feb 4) as more than 8.35 million train journeys expected to be made across the country on the day.

People at Beijing train station were happy to have been able to buy tickets.

"I could not get a ticket in the first place. I kept refreshing the online ticket website and finally got one. I'm so happy and excited. I'm happy that I can celebrate Lunar New Year with my parents," said 27-year-old Zhang Juan, who is from Beijing's neighboring province of Hebei.

"Going back home for a family reunion during Lunar New Year is a tradition in China. No matter how crowded (on the way home) it is. Nobody likes to celebrate Lunar New Year away from home, it is very boring to celebrate alone, it's much happier to celebrate with the family," said 21-year-old Li Jianan.

Festivities in China this year will get underway on Sunday (Feb 7), the eve of the Year of the Monkey.