Passengers have been able to order railway tickets for the Spring Festival travel rush since Friday, and engineers are dedicated to improving the ticket booking system to provide a smooth ticket purchasing experience.
This year's Spring Festival travel rush, also known as chunyun, starts on Jan 26 and ends on March 5. According to China State Railway Group, the national railway operator, more trains are planned during this period to meet the needs of passengers.
Chinese New Year falls on Feb 10 this year. The company said that 12,700 passenger trains will operate before the new year, and 12,800 trains will operate after, increasing seat capacity by 14.4 percent and 12.6 percent respectively compared to 2019.
Passengers can order railway tickets up to 15 days in advance. If passengers fail to order tickets, they can add their requirements to a waiting list via the ticket-booking system, including the desired trains and dates.
During this year's travel rush, popular departure and arrival cities include Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province, Chengdu in Sichuan province, and Wuhan in Hubei province, according to Shan Xinghua, chief researcher at the China Academy of Railway Sciences, which is responsible for developing and operating the 12306 ticket-booking system.
The railway department will adjust capacity based on the ticket booking system, especially using data from the waiting list, according to Wang Tuo, an associate researcher from the academy.
New features have been introduced in the 12306 mobile ticket booking system this month to make ticket booking easier.
One feature allows passengers to enter necessary information such as personal details, train service numbers, and seat preferences before the ticket booking opens. As soon as tickets become available for purchase, passengers can submit their requirements and make the payment.
Additionally, passengers can set ticket sales reminders on the application. Travelers can set multiple reminders through the system based on different dates and times when tickets go on sale to avoid missing the booking window.
Another new feature allows students and migrant workers to submit booking applications ahead of other passengers, giving them priority to secure tickets for certain services.
Hou Qingjuan, a migrant worker from Shandong province who now works in Beijing, has reserved a ticket for Feb 1 from Beijing to Liaocheng in Shandong on Friday.
"The mobile application is so popular now, and I almost forget the days of queuing for hours at the railway station to get a ticket home before the Spring Festival. The new features in the application make it easier to secure a ticket," she said.
She hopes the new feature for migrant workers will increase her chance of getting a ticket this time.