BEIJING, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- An early Spring Festival rush hit two of China's largest metropolises on the first day of the new year on Thursday, as many home-going migrant workers advanced their vacation plan.
The Beijing West Railway Station logged 130,000 departure passengers on Thursday, 38,000 people more than its averaged daily handling, said the station authority.
Long queues also appeared in front of the ticket booths in Shanghai railway hubs, where 50 policemen were dispatched to help maintain the order on Thursday.
A travel spree often appears 10 days ahead of the Spring Festival, or China's Lunar New Year, which will fall on Jan. 26 this year, in stead of lagging in February as in the previous few years.
Holidays and weekend days will give Chinese 14 days off in January, which was attributed to the early travel rush by the railway authorities.
In addition to the three days off for the New Year, people can expect a week-long holiday in the Spring Festival, which made many home-going people advance their vacation plan to take advantage of the gathered holidays.
Railway stations in Beijing are expected to handle almost 10 million passengers during the upcoming Spring Festival travel season, an 18 percent rise from that of last year, authorities said Wednesday.
They also cited the lack of big construction projects in the capital city as the reason for the increased seasonal travel, when millions of migrants return home.
The Beijing West Railway Station forecast at least 5.1 million tickets would be sold at the Beijing West Railway Station between Jan. 11 and Feb. 19, up 10 percent from a year earlier.
The railway authorities in Beijing, one of the largest transport hubs in the country, have added ticket offices, lengthened working hours and arranged additional trains, and mobilized volunteers to cope with the passenger surge, said a station spokesman.
Railway stations across China expect to handle a record of 188 million passengers, up 8 percent year on year, the Ministry of Railways said earlier in December.