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Homecoming migrants struggling for tickets


09:18, January 23, 2013

Migrant worker Gao Changliang (L), his wife Gao Qingfang, daugther Gao Zihan, and son Gao Zihao pose for a picture in a rented room in Guangzhou, Guangdong province on Jan 21, 2013 before going back to their hometown in Anyang, Henan province for the Spring Festival. (Photo/Xinhua)

BEIJING, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Wang Yougong was exhausted after getting up at dawn for five days having to wait in long queues only to be told that all train tickets to his hometown had been sold out.

An opportunity to get home came on Monday, when a Beijing West Railway Station clerk told him he could buy a high-speed train ticket to his home city of Sanmenxia, in central China's Henan Province.

Wang refused.

"Even the cheapest high-speed train ticket costs more than 400 yuan (64 U.S. dollars)," he said. "That's nearly four times as much as a normal ticket but it cuts down the travel time by five hours."

Wang makes about 2,000 yuan a month as a security guard in the capital city.

However, "normal train tickets" are no longer available until Feb. 7, the clerk told him.

The most important Chinese holiday, the Spring Festival, falls on Feb. 10 and migrants want to get home to see their families.

The Ministry of Railways (MOR) forecast the holiday travel rush, which starts on Jan. 26 will last until March 6.

"I have no idea how to get home in time now," he told Xinhua Tuesday.

Wang joined millions of migrants trying to buy tickets last Friday, in the hope that new policies, which allow passengers to buy tickets 20 days in advance, would have made life easier.

However, the policies, which encourage passengers to book tickets on the Web or over the phone and make electronic payment left many migrants and elderly people at a loss.

Wang, for example, has never used online ticketing websites or telephoned ticket service hotlines, nor does he have an online banking account.

He said he simply believed that the early bird catches the worm.

However, the old saying failed him and many others.

Li Qiao and her husband failed to get tickets to their home city of Liaocheng in east China's Shandong Province, through both the online ticketing service and at Beijing railway station counters.

The couple bought bus tickets even though the fare was more expensive than taking the train.

"We need to get home early," said Li. "We haven't seen our daughter for over a year."

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