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Migrant workers can book trains early

Updated: 2013-12-09 07:18
By Zhao Lei ( China Daily)

Migrant workers in China will have earlier access to train tickets during the upcoming chunyun, an annual travel rush around Spring Festival, according to the national railway operator.

Employers of migrant workers can begin booking train tickets on Sunday, 40 days before the start of chunyun on Jan 16 - it ends on Feb 24 - China Railway Corporation said on Saturday.

Migrant workers can also form a group in using the advance booking service, it said, adding that such groups must have at least five members.

Tradition holds that people should return to their hometowns for Spring Festival, the most important Chinese feast day, with their families, and this creates an annual travel rush that is the world's largest recurrent human migration. Spring Festival begins on Jan 31.

More than 240 million trips were made during this year's chunyun, from Jan 26 to March 6, averaging 6 million each day, statistics showed.

People other than migrant workers can reserve tickets for scheduled trains 20 days before the travel date if they make the booking on the Internet or over the telephone. They can also buy tickets at railway stations, ticket agencies or automatic ticket sellers 18 days ahead of the departure date.

All temporary train services mobilized for chunyun will first meet the needs of migrant workers, the corporation added.

By the end of 2012, there were 262.61 million migrant workers in China, or 19.39 percent of the population, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

In another move to facilitate passenger ticket sales and curb hoarding of tickets, the corporation has raised the rate a passenger must pay for returning a ticket for a train operating during chunyun.

Normally, passengers are charged about 5 percent of the ticket if they return it 48 hours or earlier before the train's departure. A 10 percent rate will be charged if the ticket is returned 24 to 48 hours before departure. A ticket returned within 24 hours of departure is subject to a 20 percent rate.

However, passengers will pay 20 percent of their ticket's price regardless of when they return the ticket if the train departs within chunyun.

The adjustment was made because train tickets are in short supply during peak periods and many people buy more tickets than they need.

China Railway Corporation also issued an iPhone application for booking tickets. Users have complained that the application is slow and cannot compete with others with similar functions that were developed by companies or individual programmers.