China railway site sees 5.93 billion clicks per hour as busiest travel season starts

China’s Chunyun (春运)—the busiest travel period in China before and after Spring Festival—sees hundreds of millions of people return home to reunite with their families, a daunting task for the country’s transport systems and travel booking sites.

The official website of China Railway Corporation, 12306, is one of the world’s busiest website during this time of year. According to Xinhua, as of Monday morning, since the train tickets have gone on sale over 10.5 million users have booked their tickets on the site with more than 23.45 million tickets sold.

“The average page views for 12306 is 55.67 billion views per day and 81.34 billion views per day during the peak period. The highest clicks per hour is 5.93 billion, with an average of 1.648 million clicks per second,” said Zhu Jian Sheng, the associate director of the Institute of Computing Technologies at China Academy of Railway Sciences.

According to Zhu, the website is stable on both desktop and mobile even at peak periods: the site sold more than 10.2 million train tickets on a single day last Thursday (Jan 11th). It is said that 12306 expanded its online ticketing capacity from 10 million tickets to 15 million tickets per day just before the arrival of Chunyun. The site also upgraded its mobile app platform to increase the stability and user experience. This year, new features are added: users can not only pay for their tickets via WeChat Pay, but also have the option to use WeChat messaging to book tickets, select seats (if the seats are available), and other new features.

Ctrip, China’s major travel booking site, is also seeing overwhelming traffic. The company said, its call center handles approximately two hundred thousand calls per day. At peak period, it has over 8000 customer service representatives per day taking calls.

This year, “post-90s” generation is said to be the main driving force of ticket sales. According to data from 12306, the demographic accounted for 47.8% of train ticket sales—an 11% increase from last year. Ctrip’s data also reflect a similar trend, showing over 50% of ticket sales coming from “post-90s” generation.