Caixin
Feb 13, 2021 05:56 AM
CHINA

Lunar New Year Traffic Flood Turns to a Trickle

A passenger in the Guangzhou Railway Station Feb. 11.
A passenger in the Guangzhou Railway Station Feb. 11.

China’s railway passenger traffic plunged almost 70% during the 15 days before the Lunar New Year as authorities urged people to “celebrate in place” and avoid unnecessary travel to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Normally the annual Spring Festival starts with a massive travel rush as hundreds of millions of people travel from big cities to their rural hometowns. But between Jan. 28 and Feb. 11 this year, China’s railways transported just 52.33 million passengers, down 68.8% from a year ago.

As winter fell, China encountered its worst resurgence in nearly 10 months as several provinces reported new clusters. Between Jan. 2 and 28, more than 2,600 new cases were confirmed in north China’s Hebei and northeast China’s Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces.

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In response to the surge of new infections, interprovincial travelers were ordered to present a negative Covid-19 test result from the preceding seven days, practice 14 days of home quarantine after arriving and not attend large gatherings, making many reluctant to travel.

The Ministry of Transport estimated 1.15 billion trips by road, rail, airplane and boat during this year’s travel rush season, which would be the smallest figure on record since the government began releasing the data in 2003.

Freight transportation hasn’t been affected by the restrictive measures. Between Jan. 28 and Feb. 11, railways transported 155.62 million tons of goods, an increase of 8.9% from a year ago.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).

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