Big traffic delays in China as millions head out for longer golden week break

More travellers join the holiday crush as an extra day is added to the annual holiday season

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 October, 2017, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 October, 2017, 10:18pm

Tens of millions of Chinese travellers hit the road and rails on Sunday, leading to train delays and traffic jams on the first day of the extended national golden week public holiday.

An extra day has been added to annual week-long National Day break because the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on October 4 this year.

As a result, Chinese travellers are expected to make about 710 million trips to domestic destinations over the break, a 10 per cent increase on last year’s total, according to the China Tourism Academy, a government think tank.

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The holidaymakers were expected to spend a combined 590 billion yuan (US$88.6 billion), 12 per cent more than at the same time last year, the think tank said. About 14 per cent of domestic tourism spending occurs during the National Day break.

The mass movement, second in scale only to the Lunar New Year exodus, is again putting the transport system under great pressure.

Traffic had surged on the country’s expressways, which were open to small cars free of charge from Sunday to October 8, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Motorists took to social media to complain and post photos of congested roads.

“I am having a breakdown,” one Weibo user wrote on Sunday afternoon. “I left Shenzhen at 10pm yesterday – it’s been almost 15 hours [on the road].”

Shenzhen traffic police replied to the post with crying emojis, adding that too many people were heading home for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

In Guangzhou, nearly 200 people missed flights because they were stuck in traffic on the way to the airport, Guangzhou Traffic Radio reported on Sunday morning.

Cars were also bumper to bumper in parts of Beijing, Chengdu and Chongqing.

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Rail authorities added 569 services on Sunday for the 15 million passengers expected to travel by train at the start of the golden week, according to China Railway.

About 12.5 million passengers passed through the turnstiles on Saturday, a 9.8 per cent increase on a year earlier, the rail operator said.

Hebei resident Bai Long, 23, who travelled from the provincial capital Shijiazhuang to his home city of Baoding said the trip took half an hour longer than usual.

“A lot of time was spent waiting at stations,” Bai said. “Too many people needed to get on the train.”

Visitor numbers are being restricted at some of the most popular tourist spots to prevent dangerous overcrowding.

The number of visitors to the Forbidden City in Beijing will be capped at 80,000 every day during the break, and the public has been advised to avoid the peak hours from 10am to 1pm.

Traffic controls are also in place for the Badaling section of the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs, according to Beijing Youth Daily.