By Michael Evans
The official 40 day period of Spring Festival travel, or chunyun, will run from January 26 to March 6, Xinhua reported last week.
An estimated 3.41 billion travelers will take part in this year’s chunyun, according to estimates by the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s central planning agency.
If the estimates prove correct, the 2013 chunyun will be the largest in China’s history, with passenger volume 8.6 percent higher than last year.
The Spring Festival holiday itself will begin on February 9 and last for one week.
While advance purchases of chunyun railway tickets are currently available only for group bookings from students and migrant workers, the Shanghai Daily reports that current ticket sales do not bode well for the future travel rush:
The railway authority’s only online ticket booking website broke down twice this week.
The website, www.12306.cn, saw its latest glitch on Wednesday morning when the site was inaccessible due to “the air-conditioning breakdown at computer rooms.” The same problem first hit the site two days earlier.
Would-be rail travelers expressed concern that they might not get their tickets in time if there were any other system failures.
The notoriously unreliable (and expensive) online booking system was introduced in preparation for last year’s chunyun. Authorities have reminded travelers that they can also book tickets in person or over the phone.