Every year, more than a billion people pour through China’s public transport system in what has been described as the world’s largest annual human migration. Over the course of some 40 days—spanning from late-January until early-March—droves of Chinese nationals swarm home to be with their families for the Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year: an event celebrating the beginning of the new year according to the traditional Chinese calendar.
It’s a significant date not just in China, but throughout Asia. It's a time to reunite with loved ones, to gorge on food, and get one’s house in order. And in order to do that, huge masses of migrant workers and people living away from their familial homes flood onto airports, train stations, and freeways to make their way home. There are stories of traffic jams lasting 34 hours and railway station queues winding on for days. Last year, it was predicted that about 1.5 billion people would be undertaking 2.8 billion passenger-journeys around China alone throughout the New Year period.
Photos from the frontline of this mass migration capture the hectic intensity of so many people on the move. Train stations thronging with the crush of the crowds; seemingly endless lines of commuters stacking up alongside train carriages. These images are suffocating and stressful at a glance. But they also reflect a certain love of tradition. A dogged commitment to family ties, and to an event that is considered the most important holiday on the calendar, year after year.