Spring Fes­ti­val travel rush be­gins

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LUO WANG­SHU in Bei­jing and ZHENG CAIX­IONG in Guangzhou

The Spring Fes­ti­val travel rush started on Fri­day, ush­er­ing in the world’s largest an­nual hu­man mi­gra­tion.

Dur­ing the 40 day travel peak, 2.98 bil­lion trips are ex­pected to be made, sim­i­lar to last year’s num­ber, ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment’s fore­cast.

The num­ber in­cludes 58.3 mil­lion trips by air, up by 10 per­cent com­pared with the same pe­riod last year.

On Fri­day, 8.55 mil­lion trips were made on rail­ways, 58 mil­lion by roads, 590,000 by wa­ter­ways and 1.3 mil­lion by air across the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Trans­port.

Mean­while, 1,672 flight de­par­tures and ar­rivals were sched­uled at Bei­jing Cap­i­tal In­ter­na­tional Air­port, up 4 per­cent year-on-year, the air­port author­ity said.

China’s flag car­rier Air China said it plans to add 1,894 flights dur­ing the rush, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber to 47,078 dur­ing the pe­riod.

New ser­vices are be­ing of­fered dur­ing this year’s spring rush to im­prove pas­sen­gers’ travel ex­pe­ri­ence.

Luo Yong, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Air China’s mar­ket­ing de­part­ment, said all pas­sen­gers who de­part from the United States and Europe and make trans­fers in Bei­jing to other Chi­nese des­ti­na­tions will be able to pick up their lug­gage when they reach their fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

“Pre­vi­ously, they had to pick up their lug­gage in Bei­jing and carry it to go through cus­tom checks be­fore board­ing an­other do­mes­tic flight,” said Luo.

Mean­while, sev­eral large train sta­tions, such as Guangzhou and Chang­sha, are us­ing face recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy for the first time to speed up pas­sen­ger iden­tity ver­i­fi­ca­tion, which was done be­fore by train sta­tion staff mem­bers who checked train tick­ets and ID cards.

Now, pas­sen­gers at those sta­tions only need to stand in front of a cam­era for a few

sec­onds after putting their ID card and train ticket into a slot at a check­point. The face recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy will com­pare the photo it takes with that on the pas­sen­ger’s ID card.

Zhou Cheng­pei, who ex­pe­ri­enced the tech­nol­ogy at Guangzhou South Rail­way Sta­tion be­fore board­ing a train to Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, de­scribed the process as “con­ve­nient, fast and cool”.

In ad­di­tion, the Guang­dong Provin­cial Trans­porta­tion Author­ity col­lab­o­rated with Chi­nese in­ter­net gi­ant Ten­cent to es­tab­lish a big data anal­y­sis and fore­cast­ing plat­form, which is ex­pected to im­prove the author­ity’s abil­ity to or­ga­nize and co­or­di­nate emer­gency re­sponses.

In Ji­nan, cap­i­tal of Shan­dong prov­ince, three ro­bots are pre­pared to an­swer ques­tions about train-rid­ing rules and sta­tion ac­tiv­i­ties at Ji­nan West Rail­way Sta­tion.

“They can an­swer ques­tions such as how to buy train tick­ets and how to change the travel date, and help those look­ing for restau­rants or park­ing lots nearby,” said Li Yang, an em­ployee at the train sta­tion.

The ro­bots, in­stalled last month, can also en­ter­tain pas­sen­gers. “They dance or wave their hands as re­quested. They have brought much fun to pas­sen­gers,” he said.

The Bei­jing Rail­way Bureau has also opened an on­line or­der­ing ser­vice for some of the trains it op­er­ates. With a new mo­bile phone app, pas­sen­gers can or­der dishes, make pay­ments and wait in their seats for stew­ards to de­liver their food.

Shen Peilan, who will take a train from Bei­jing to Shang­hai, said she will try the new ser­vice. “I usu­ally travel alone and no one can watch over my lug­gage when I go to the din­ing car. That is why I usu­ally skip a meal on the train. But I will try the on­line or­der­ing this time,” she said.

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

A mother and her baby girl are ready to board a train at Bei­jing West Rail­way Sta­tion on Fri­day.

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