Free tickets for migrant workers

CNC report from Beijing
Added On February 5, 2013

A record of 3.4 billion trips are expected to be made during Chinese New Year this year, beginning this week... And migrant workers remain the majority.

Over the last three decades, they've become used to fighting for a ticket home to their families.

But this year, some factory workers in central China don't have to worry... Here's why:

For migrant workers hurrying home for the once-a-year family reunion, a cheap train ticket has never been more important.

And with millions of people moving across the country this week, getting one is increasingly difficult...

But in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, the picture is different...

2,000 migrant workers are preparing to board a homeward train days ahead of the Spring Festival.

Each holding a free train ticket in their hands.

They were distributed by charity donators, including the Hubei provincial federation of trade unions and women's federation.

It's the second straight year for them to sponsor the event.

Now these workers - many of them parents to children they see less than once a year - are finally heading home.

[SOUNDBITE] MIGRANT WORKER
"I finally got a train ticket. It's free. This is great! I never had the chance to get a free train ticket. This is the first time."

[SOUNDBITE] MIGRANT WORKER
"I'm so happy I could get a free train ticket. They also sent us new year gifts."

[SOUNDBITE] MIGRANT WORKER
"Train tickets are so difficult to get for us migrant workers. That's why we are so happy."

This is the compartment of a charter train for migrant workers, bound for the remote mountain areas of Hubei Province.

Many of them wear red scarves, one of the new year gifts given by a local charity organization.

Zhang Jiafu, a farmer from Chongqing in southwest China, has been running a news stand in Wuhan for eight years.

Thanks to the free ticket program, he brought his son to visit relatives in their hometown.

[SOUNDBITE] ZHANG JIAFU, Migrant worker
"This year, I come back home with my son. It's really convenient. The transportation has been developing quickly. Especially, we get the train tickets for free. That is so great!"

Construction workers Xiao Youming and his wife are traveling back to Enshi, one of the least developed areas in Hubei... Where their children have been waiting.

[SOUNDBITE] XIAO YOUMING, Migrant worker
"I am looking forward to our family reunion, no matter how far we have to travel. I wish my family health and safety."

China's hundreds of millions of migrant workers built China's roads, bridges, cities and goods - at the cost of leaving their families behind.

As Spring Festival - the biggest holiday for family reunions - approaches, returning home is their biggest wish...

And for these workers, its about to come true.

Spring Festival begins on February 10th this year, with the peak travel season set to last 40 days.