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Spring Festival Train Ticket Lines In Ningbo & Xian

A soldier helps maintain order at a line for train tickets in Ningbo.

春运, “chun yun”, is the term for the many Chinese people who travel around the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) time period. Many Chinese people who have left their hometowns to work in other places in China must “return home” to visit their families and celebrate the holiday together. This happens every year and most people travel by taking the train. Train tickets can only be sold and purchased a maximum of 10 days before the desired departure date and there are only a limited amount of tickets available. This is one reason why many people must line up and wait many long hours (or days) so they can buy a train ticket to go home for Spring Festival, which is Janauary 25 this year. Here are some pictures of the lines and people waiting to buy train tickets in Ningbo:

A very long line of people hoping to buy train tickets to return to their hometowns to celebrate the Chinese New Year with their families.

密密麻麻的买票回家大军
A large and crammed contingent of people buying tickets to go home.
1月2日,在宁波国际会展中心临时售票点,一名排了两天队的购票者披着棉被等待买票。新华社发
January 2, at the Ningbo International Exhibition Center temporary ticket sales location, a ticket-buyer who has queued for two days drapes a cotton blanket around him waiting to buy tickets.
“披着被子买票”是对地方政府不作为、难作为的有力控诉。
"Buying ticket with blanket" is a powerful complaint/denouncement against the area government's inaction or bad actions.
回家的路漫漫长,“买票难”何时才能得到根本解决。
The road home is endlessly long, when can the "difficulty of buying tickets" finally get a fundamental solution?
一双双渴望回家的眼睛,等来的却可能是“票已经卖完的”尴尬结局。
Pairs and pairs of eyes longing to go home, but the awkward result after waiting could be "tickets have been sold out."

These pictures are from Xian, China:

2009 January 3, at Xian Railway Station, people queue to purchase train tickets.
2009 January 3, at Xian Railway Station, people queue to purchase train tickets.
1月3日,在西安火车站一流动售票点,许多学生排队购买火车票。
2009 January 3, at Xian Railway Station's mobile ticket selling point, many students line up to buy train tickets.

Pictures and captions from NetEase, Sina, and this blog.

Comments from NetEase:

In many places in Guangdong, there are a lot of people who cannot get tickets, but ticket scalpers have many tickets. After getting arrested, a ticket scalper immediately says he has connections to get out. He also says there are so many people doing it, so he is not afraid.

Wish everyone can all get tickets and return home on time to celebrate the new year! Where is my ticket? …

How come we do not see any sign of the leading cadres???

With Chun Yun so many years now, it is still the same, even with increasing trends. I want to ask just what are the country’s relevant management departments doing, how are household registrations being managed, how is birth control being controlled, and whether marriage laws and legal marriage age regulations are a little out of date!!!

The name of the person who purchased the ticket should be printed on the train ticket or qualified identification document numbers!

It is really severe right now, having to wait this long of a line just to buy a ticket to go home.

Every holiday is like this, leading to many people celebrating the new year, the holidays away from home, unable to be reunited with their families. Is it possible to change this kind of situation?

Sigh, my god, who can we blame? Who made us have so much people?!

I really really want to go home. I am afraid of not being able to get a ticket. It has been three years now that I have not gone home. Seeing what you all have said is really frightening, just like there not being anymore train tickets tomorrow.

There is not even a decent queue, so how could it be anything but messy?!

The Ministry of Railways, the group of pigs, is too stupid! Yelling for so many years and still nothing can be done! Pigs!!! (Also possibly wolves! Otherwise, what would this group of wolves eat?)

Sigh, the miserable journey is about to begin again!!!

Comments from Sina:

It has been many years since I have been home to celebrate Spring Festival.
There is no way [for me to get home]…

Fellow workers: Everyone work together, and do not go buy those expensive tickets [from ticket scalpers]. After ten days, what can those ticket scalpers do…

The people inside and outside of the train stations are in collusion, giving the majority of tickets to the ticket touts and dividing the profits between themselves. So for places like Dongguan Railway Station where for several days straight there were no tickets available immediately upon opening the [ticket sales] windows, where did those tickets go???

In this respect, China is really awful, often not having any tickets even before tickets begin being sold. The Railway Bureau’s management is really awful.

Seeing these scenes every year makes my head hurt, faint, and want to vomit. Yet every year I must experience this kind of scene twice. Sigh!!!

This definitely is not China… [sarcasm]

From Youku Buzz:

In this video uploaded yesterday by a Youku user, you can see the long queue outside the railway station in Hefei, Anhui. Most passengers in this first wave of “chunyun” were college students who had waited hours at the temporary ticket windows.

See Also:

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

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