Oct 07, 2019 / 17:29

Railway cafes: Leave them open or closed?

The Hanoitimes - The interest in the thrilling railway cafes shows the limited awareness of railway safety. It is improper to do business in an operating railway.

The decision to shutt down coffee shops located on both sides of the Old Quarter stretch of the train track in Hanoi has become a controversial issue among the public when it comes to tourism development and the safety of locals and visitors to the city. 
 
Foreign visitors enjoy beers right on the railway track. Photo: Thanh Thuy.
Foreign visitors enjoy beers right on the railway track. Photo: Thanh Thuy.
The Ministry of Transport has requested the Hanoi People’s Committee and Vietnam Railways Corporation to close businesses on the sides of the railroad, especially to continue enforcing the ban on taking photographs and selling coffee on the train track.

Some tourism experts argued that the “deadly” coffee shops should not be closed to remain the unique cultural trait of the city. On the other hand, Hanoi’s authorities suggested some measures to make the businesses safer. 

Nguyen Thi Huyen, director of Vietrantour, a regional tourism operator, said that the railway cafes have proven their attractiveness as foreign visitors are flocking here to watch the local life and the chilling experience of standing less than a meter away from a running train in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Hanoi is lacking new and unique tourism spots for visitors, as a result, visitors could regret the shutdown of the railway cafes, Huyen said.

Another tourism expert, Nguyen Tien Dat, considered the scene of train passengers and people along the railway waving at each other is interesting. He proposed Hanoi install some warning signs to ensure safety.

On the other hand, some experts affirmed that Hanoi must close down the railway cafes to respect the rule of law.

Vietnam's railway industry has regulations on the safe corridors for people in the railway area, thereby, living and doing business on the railway is not acceptable. 

Psychologist Dinh Doan said foreign visitors gather at the railway cafes because it is banned in their countries and they just want to seek an exotic experience.

Promoting local tourism is important but ensuring safety is more necessary. 

The interest in the thrilling railway cafes shows the limited awareness of railway safety. It is improper to do business in an operating railway, according to Ph.D. Phan Le Binh, an expert of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).