Guangzhou Railway Station, in the southern province of Guangdong, is one of the busiest in China. Each year around the Lunar New year, countless passengers who have moved to the Pearl River Delta for work head home via the station.
Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 16 this year. Hundreds of millions of Chinese will return to their hometowns for family gatherings or travel around the country, putting huge pressure on the transportation system.
About 2.98 billion trips are expected to be made during the 2018 Spring Festival travel rush between Feb. 1 and March 12, approximately the same figure as last year, according to China's top economic planner.
As the annual travel rush, known as "Chunyun," began, Xinhua reporters visited the station to record the changes that have taken place in recent decades.
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The station was built in 1974.
"In the 1970s, the station could accommodate about 25,000 people, and there were not many passengers at that time," said Zhu Haibin, head of the station's security department. "But the station began to become crowded after the opening-up and reform policy in 1978."
The policy's economic reforms introduced market principles, such as opening to foreign investment, allowing entrepreneurs to start businesses, and privatization of state-owned industries.
Since then, the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone -- whose nine cities include Guangzhou, Dongguan, and Shenzhen -- started to take off under preferential policies, thanks in part to its proximity to Hong Kong and Macao, which were more developed than the Chinese mainland.