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Migrant workers get a break with their train tickets

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2016-02-02

Ge Lin becomes one of the lucky migrant workers to go back to her hometown in Guizhou province for the Spring Festival thanks to Alibaba’s charity project.

Migrant workers get a break with their train tickets

Migrant worker who got a free ticket, at the Guiyang Railway Station, on Jan26. [Photo/www.news.cn]

How'd that happen? She got a free train ticket from the Alibaba Group, China's biggest online retailer in China, which provided a "Happy to be back home" train for migrant workers, college students and people who couldn't get a train ticket, with 1,000 seats and Ge was one of the lucky ones.

Large numbers of migrants are on the move, leading to overloading of trains and buses during the festival. Some migrant workers who have difficulty buying a ticket turn to motorbikes, an unusual way to travel during Spring Festival, and a cause of concern about safety in the freezing weather. So, when the Alibaba Group learned of the workers' plight it worked with the Guizhou Communist Youth League to arrange 1,000-seat high-speed train running from Guangzhou to Guiyang, Guizhou’s capital. It shortens the travel time from 20 hours to just four.

Migrant workers get a break with their train tickets

Migrant couple with heavy loads heading home after exiting the train. [Photo/www.news.cn]

Ge explains, "No matter what, I simply have to spend Spring Festival with them," referring to her grandparents, who raised her. In her 17 years she has only had four chances to see her father who is also a migrant worker and someone she can barely picture in her mind.

In describing the joy of getting the special ticket, Wang Guoyou, from Zhijing county in Guizhou and who has worked as courier away from home for more than 10 years, says, "I spent nearly a month in vain trying to buy a ticket online, but now, thanks to the free train ticket, I'm headed home."

The "Happy to be back home" train carries not only migrant workers like Ge but also dreams of a better life, for example Yang Li, who shared her plan to open an online store with what she learned over the years working outside, to sell hometown's products to cities.

He Guang, who is in charge of the activity for Alibaba, explains that this single train cannot hope to carry so many people but that he hopes more companies can share the social burden. And the Guizhou Communist Youth League say they are developing favorable policies to help migrant workers start a business at home.

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