Expensive rail route nearly abandoned
  • | | June 26, 2018 10:47 AM
Due to continual losses, there's only one weekly Hanoi-Ha Long train from at Yen Vien Station for a few dozen passengers.

People lying down when the trains lack passengers

Since April 1, there's only one train runs every Friday. The USD68-million 130km route from Hanoi's Yen Vien to Ha Long City was invested by Vietnam Railways and was put into operation since 2014 after nine years of construction.

Yen Vien Station is almost entirely disused and sold just 50 tickets a day last year, most of the passengers are traders and travel with their goods.

Part of the problem is that the railway has a different track gauge. The route to Ha Long Station uses 1.435m tracks while the rest of Vietnam still employs the out-dated and narrower 1m. For destinations such as Lang Son and Lao Cai provinces, commodities need to be shifted from one line to another, meaning higher transport costs than by either road or water.

Passengers are also reluctant to use the line. It takes four hours to travel 160 kilometres by road to Ha Long city, yet the same train route takes 7 hours.

Hanoi Railway Transportation JSC's Deputy General Director Phung Thi Ly Ha said they were incurring VND20bn in losses a year. She said, "We've wanted to end the service many times but both the locals and authorities opposed it."

The interior of the last train is also out-dated with old-style chairs and fans. On June 15, there was only one passenger departed from Hanoi to Ha Long at 4.50 am. 69-year-old Pham Thi Binh said she was car-sick so the train was her preferred option. The train only consists of one passenger carriage and one freight wagon. A few other passengers boarded the train from other stations with many of them are fruit traders.

Passenger Nguyen Van Chuan said he had been selling water and tea on the train for VND50,000 of profit per trip. Some of them are old regulars and don't want the train to stop running.

Some photos of the train:



69-year-old Pham Thi Binh said she was car-sick so the train was her preferred option


Three accidents occurred every week in the past years at various illegal level crossings along the track

Newly-built Ha Long Station only has one train per week

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