Thursday, January 31, 2008
Next week, most Chinese will be celebrating Chinese New Year with their families. Millions of people in China travel home for this holiday. Because of the crowds, it's extremely difficult to get train tickets during Chinese New Year. I still remember how hard it was for me and my college classmates to get tickets from Shanghai to Harbin. Some of my friends slept at the train station overnight, waiting in line for the ticket windows to open.
However, this year the biggest problem isn't the availability of train tickets, it's the huge snowstorm that's currently affecting the central, southern, and eastern parts of China. It's the worst snowstorm in about 50 years. By now, it is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damages. Several national highways, airports, and train stations have been closed; tens of thousands of farms have been destroyed; power outages have hit many of the provinces; and thousands of soldiers are working around the clock to clear the snow. Many of the people who want to go home for Chinese New Year are stranded.
The Google Maps team in China has put together a special My Map that shows current weather conditions and the status of China's public transit systems. Click on the train and plane icons to find out whether the train stations and airports are still selling tickets, and whether the stations are currently open or closed. You can also get information on which trains have stopped operation, the number of passengers stalled in the stations, and instructions on how to get your tickets reimbursed.
If you have information that you'd like the Maps team to include, please email us.