Desperate to get home, passengers pile onto a train at Wuxi Station.

A staggering 232 billion plane, train and car journeys will take place over the 40 days of Chunyun, the Chinese New Year. With so many people desperate to get back to their families for the occasion, transport workers can't resist the opportunity to swindle their customers. After all, there aren't enough tickets for everyone!

The station workers' scalping union

From ChinaSmack:

Passengers knock on the windows to no avail. The employee pays no attention and continues to print tickets, and have a fun time chatting with colleagues. After that, she bundled and categorized the tickets carefully, keeping count of her tickets with a logbook. She finally noticed that she was captured on camera. She drew the curtains closed.

The anonymous cameraman even pointed the camera at the station clock. In the video, the time was 9:03am, 10 January. The ticket office was No. 37.

The reporter discovered that the videos were originally posted on Youku on 10 January. It was later uploaded at YouTube, Mop, Tianya, and other online bulletins. Ren Ming Wang, NetEase, Sohu, Fenghuang, and others also have this video. There were over a hundred comments within two hours at YouTube, while Tianya garnered over 2,000 comments and 90,000 views in a day. One comment called for harsh punishment and wanted the rail authorities to give out the station number so people can call them and complain."

"They would rather throw away the leftover tickets than let the market prices go down"

A comment posted on Netease

Going home last year for 'Chun Yun', I spent a lot of money to buy a train ticket (it was downright impossible to book a ticket at the ticket windows). Upon boarding the train, I was shocked. Cao! There were empty seats everywhere!!! Why?? Earlier, I inadvertently learnt from a ticket scalper that ticket scalping has actually already become a seasonal occupation, that there are many tickets on the market, but those businesspeople have heated the market on the premise that "what is rare is expensive", increasing the fears of the masses that are in a rush to go home and be reunited (with their families). Ticketing windows without tickets are in the hands of the ticket scalpers. Want 10 tickets? He can give you 11 tickets...but the only thing is that the price cannot be lowered. Those people are definitely working in groups/gangs. The organizer bastards sometimes would rather not sell [the tickets] than pull down the ticket scalping market prices. This is how the large amounts of empty seats on the trains happen. Do the math: 10 tickets * 100 RMB/ticket = 1000 RMB, 9 * 120 = 1080 or 9 * 110 = 990. This is a business whose sums cannot be carefully calculated. They would rather throw away the leftover tickets than let the market prices go down...this should be considered the trick of the trade!!"

Those who got hold of a ticket… in the hold of a bus

Video posted on YoukuBuzz by Steven Lin along with this comment:

Though there's still a week remaining before the Chinese Spring Festival, some of my friends who work in Beijing are already on their way back home - somewhere far, far away in Southern China. For most of them, this is the only chance to see their parents this year. They just can't wait.

Greed is the root of all evil, and unfortunately, black-hearted drivers are still trying their best to make money from "Chunyun," the annual mass homecoming. In this video of news from Hunan TV, you can see eight people hidden in the luggage compartment of an overloaded long-distance bus. Why? The scarcity of legal tickets has become an excuse for bus drivers to moonlight as human trade transporters."

"The government is trying to improve the system bit by bit"

Xiaodong Du is one of our Observers in China. He's from Zhanjiang, southern China, but studies 2,253km north in Shanghai. The train takes around 30 hours. 

Buying tickets is a grave problem in China. This year I was lucky. I've just got home. My university set up a reservation system on the intranet. Only students can access it and you have to book a month in advance. That changes everything! And it shows that the government is trying to improve the system bit by bit. The Chinese people really need more things like that."

Documented chaos

Queuing for tickets at Guangzhou Station. Posted here.

Posted here.

Guiyang Station. Posted here.

Posted here.

Boarding the train for Chengdu at Wuxi Station. Posted here.