World’s biggest travel rush begins for CNY

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BEIJING China yesterday kicked off the world's largest annual human migration with the start of the 40-day Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, travel rush.

During this period, around 700 million people - twice the entire population of the US - cram onto trains, buses, planes and boats to return to their hometowns or to take a holiday.

About 2.98 billion trips are expected to be made between yesterday and March 12.

Road trips via long-distance buses remain the most common mode of transport for most Chinese, with eight in 10 travellers taking the coach home.

But this year, such trips are likely to dip for the first time as the high-speed rail network continues to expand and as more people choose to drive home, the authorities said.

For quicker check-in and to ease congestion, some railway stations have started to use facial recognition technology to verify passenger identities.

"Around 3 billion trips during the 40 days will be a big test for the country's transportation departments," said Mr Liu Xiaoming, an official with the Ministry of Transport.

The freezing weather in many parts of China has posed more challenges for the authorities, while data from Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing shows that car-sharing services will be a hit this year.

A total of 33 million people will use ride-sharing services to get home this year, three times the total of the previous two years, it said.