At about a month before large crowds of people go on the move for the 2008 Lunar New Year, China's Ministry of Railways (MOR) said on Thursday it would offer round-trip tickets for migrant workers.
Many of these workers only get home for family gatherings once a year, during the Spring Festival, the most important holiday for Chinese. But train tickets are often difficult to get at that time, since millions of Chinese want to go home.
The Lunar New Year's Day for 2008 falls on Feb. 7.
The round-trip tickets would be available at railway stations in cities with a high concentration of migrant workers, such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan in southern Guangdong Province, as well as Wenzhou and Hangzhou in eastern Zhejiang Province, according to an MOR official.
Railway stations would start to sell round-trip tickets to the migrant workers between Jan. 11 and 31, and information about the tickets would be published beforehand along with contact phone numbers, the official said.
However, only enterprises that employed more than 100 migrant workers were allowed to buy round-trip tickets for these workers.
Employers would have to present a range of documents, including a written application, their business license and an authorization for employing migrant workers from local governments.
Migrant workers would be able to start their return trips at places that see a large outflow of rural labor, such as cities in central Hubei Province, eastern Anhui Province and southwestern Sichuan Province.
The return trip needed to be scheduled between Feb. 10 and 20.
Previously, round-trip train tickets were only available for students.
China has about 200 million migrant workers across the country, among whom about 120 million traveled to other cities to seek jobs.
(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2007)