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Free Guangzhou trains carry migrant workers, families home

Huang Yunfei is a migrant worker in Guangzhou, China’s third largest city.

His hometown Jingxi, 800 kilometers away, is a remote and poverty-stricken area in the neighboring region of Guangxi.

For the first time, Huang, his wife and two sons are traveling home by high-speed train for the Spring Festival, the country’s most important celebration.

That’s because the Guangzhou railway corporation has provided free tickets for migrant workers to travel home this year.

“We used to return home by long-distance coach as it’s so difficult to get a train ticket,” Huang said. “A single coach trip can cost as much as 400 yuan per person; for my family it’s a big cost.”

So Huang’s family find themselves this year among the big crowds during one of the busiest times at Guangzhou Railway Station, South China’s busiest one with more daily trips than any other.

It’s the third year that the Guangzhou railway corporation has designated special trains like the one on which the family is traveling during the Spring Festival. The company provides a total of 4,300 free tickets to students and migrant workers like Huang from impoverished areas.

“It used to take us 12 hours to return home by coach, and I’d usually get carsick. The train is much faster and more comfortable,” said Huang’s wife Zhai Yanmei

The train ride takes about six hours. From there, it’s another two by bus before he and his family finally reach their home village. In the past, they missed the Spring Festival due to expensive tickets, but this year, they’ll make it home on time.