China braces for lunar New Year travel rush

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Beijing, Jan 13 (IANS) The Chinese New Year, the world's most crowded travel season and the country's most important holiday, began on Friday.

Known in China as the "Spring Festival", it is for many the only time of year that families are fully reunited, pushing the anticipated number of trips between January 13 and February 21 up to to roughly 3 billion, Efe news reported.

According to China's National Development and Reform Commission spokesperson Zhao Chenxin, the figure has increased every year and in 2017 is 2.2 per cent higher year-on-year, with even greater hikes in air tickets.

The majority of people take buses and private vehicles to travel, with 2.5 billion road trips estimated for this time. But for long distances, trains are still preferred and some 356 million people will pack themselves into rail carriages in the upcoming days, note estimates by authorities.

In addition, there will be 58.3 million trips by plane and 43.5 million by boat during this holiday.

On Friday, travellers began to overcrowd train stations in Beijing, bursting with luggage and gifts to bring home for the lunar new year celebrations which in 2017 will welcome the rooster horoscope animal.

Last year, the year of the monkey, will end on the night of January 27, when fireworks will illuminate every corner of the country to ward off evil spirits.

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