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China Daily

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Monday, February 11, 2019, 11:52
Icy weather hampers post-holiday travel rush
By Wang Keju and Zhu Lixin
Monday, February 11, 2019, 11:52 By Wang Keju and Zhu Lixin

Chinese passengers crowd the Wuhan Railway Station during the Spring Festival travel rush in Wuhan city, Central China's province, on Feb 8, 2019. (PHOTO / IC)

Some 12.52 million rail trips expected on Sunday as additional trains added.

China is seeing a huge, in some cases record-setting, number of travelers heading home with the end of the weeklong Lunar New Year holidayjust as snow and ice are making travel conditions challenging in many areas.

Heavy snow in central and eastern parts of the country is posing the biggest obstacle to those driving back to major cities and coastal areas. Some travelers have been temporarily stranded, and icy conditions were forecast to continue well into the week in some areas.

Those traveling by rail seemed to have fewer challenges, apart from crowds.

ALSO READ: Holiday travel brings US$76.2b to China's tourism revenue

Railway trips were set to hit a record high, according to the national railway operator.

On Sunday, the last day of the holiday, some 12.52 million passenger trips were expected to be made by rail, a daily record for the travel rush, according to the China Railway Corp. An additional 1,067 trains were being scheduled to meet the demand, it said.

Beijing Capital International Airport, China's busiest air transport hub, was expected to handle 292,400 trips on 1,709 flights on Sunday.

Chinese passengers crowd the Wuhan Railway Station during the Spring Festival travel rush in Wuhan city, Central China's province, on Feb 8, 2019. (PHOTO / IC)

Major highways, which are toll-free during the holiday, also saw a surge. The Ministry of Transport said some 79.3 million road trips were expected to be made on Sunday, leading to rising congestion on expressways around major cities.

Also as of Sunday, the icy, snowy weather closed many expressways in Gansu, Shaanxi, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Hubei, Hunan and Anhui provinces as well as some parts of Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions and Qinghai province, the National Meteorological Center said.

Local transport authorities sent special vehicles out to remove snow and ice that made roads hazardous.

Travelers make their way home on Feb 10, 2019, the last day of the Spring Festival break, amid heavy snow in Yongji, Shanxi province. (LIU BAOCHENG / CHINA DAILY)

With snow blanketing much of Anhui province, dozens of toll stations on more than 20 highways reported that they either closed sections of road or were forced to restrict the number of vehicles as of Sunday morning.

Five people died and another four were injured on Sunday morning after 23 vehicles crashed in a chain of rear-end accidents in Anhui's Yuexi county on a highway from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, local traffic police said.

Four of the dead were standing on the edge of an icy bridge to escape the crashes but lost their footing and fell off, police said.

Passengers queue up to board the train at Guiyangbei Railway Station in Guiyang, Southwest China's Guizhou province, on Feb 10, 2019. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Anhui's meteorological bureau issued a yellow alert for road icing on Sunday and forecast that snow and sleet would linger in most parts of the province until Wednesday. In the country's four-tier weather warning system, red is the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

Song Ziming, who was married in October in Hefei, capital of Anhui, had planned to take his wife to his hometown of Huaibei on Friday but ended up being stuck in Hefei "because highways were closed or jammed, and train tickets were not available".

Passengers are seen on platform waiting for a train at Zhengzhoudong Railway Station in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan province, on Feb 10, 2019. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Song said he was concerned by the many updates people posted on WeChat Moments showing cars in long lines on snowy highways.

Over 500 vehicles were stuck in a highway traffic jam in Fuyang, Anhui, for nearly an entire night, until Saturday morning. Local traffic authorities took measures including closing highway entrances and scattering ice-melting agents.

READ MORE: 1.77m daily exit, entry trips predicted during Spring Festival

Passengers check in at Zhengzhoudong Railway Station in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan province, on Feb 10, 2019. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Meteorologists said rainy, snowy and windy days with sharp temperature drops would continue intermittently for the next 10 days in areas south of Yangtze River.

About 2.98 billion trips were expected to be made from Feb 1 to March 12 during the 2019 Spring Festival travel rush, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic regulator.

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