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Mar 08, 2022 / 11:42

Vietnam railway set for breakthroughs in 2022

The Lunar New year period is the time that those working in the railway industry see passengers crammed into train carriages.

Changes in development strategy and business models have given hope for Vietnam’s railway industry to make breakthroughs in 2022 and return to its past glory.

 Europe-bound railway freight transport is set to be the breakthrough for Vietnam's railway industry in 2022. Photos: The Hanoi Times

The railway started the year with positive notes as the number of passengers surged during the first days of the Lunar New year. For those working in the industry, it was uplifting to see passengers crammed into train carriages at a time when the pandemic remains a concern for everyone.

In the past months, the railway offered steep discounts when the number of passengers continues to decline, including a 40% discount on train tickets for individual passengers with far travel dates, tickets for whole carriage reservations, or free meals on board.

In addition to promotion activities, the railway has also been focusing on streamlining operations to cut costs, including the suspension of railway routes with a low number of passengers.

Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR)  has launched new services to attract passengers, especially to destinations with high tourism potential, and cargo transport long-distance.

The first railway freight transport from Danang to Europe is scheduled to launch in early March.

Under the plan, the train carrying 23 containers of 40 feet in length, would start from Danang to Dong Anh District, Hanoi via the railroad of  1,000-mm   track gauge, and later be transferred to train running on the railroad of a track gauge of 1,435 mm to Dong Dang International Station, Lang Son Province.

This is where the train will head to China’s Zhengzhou city, and there, another locomotive of the Asia-Europe train will pull the rolling stock to the final destination in Europe.

Rail freight transport to Europe is not a new idea, as the VNR introduced its railway freight service to Belgium last July. The first container train left Vietnam to Belgium on July 20, carrying goods such as textiles, electronics, and footwear, from Yen Vien Station, Hanoi, and arrived in Liege City, Belgium, the following month.

 Railway transport has fewer environmental impacts compared to other transport modes. 

A representative of VNR said as maritime transport was disrupted due to the pandemic, railway freight services from Vietnam to Europe are seen as a viable alternative.

“Along with economic benefits, rail freight transportation would have less environmental impacts compared to other transport modes such as aviation or maritime shipping,” he said.

Statistics from the VNR showed four months since the launch last July, there had been a total of 644 containers of 40 feet being transported via 28 trains to Europe, or an average of three trains per week.

The VNR expected the frequency would be raised to four to five trains per week, along with transporting European goods and products back to Vietnam in two trains per month.

“We are putting our rolling stock to the maximum operating capacity to gain further market share. An operating train per day would mean more opportunity for the railway industry,” a VNR representative suggested.

Experts suggested the launch of direct railway freight services from Vietnam to Europe would further encourage businesses to turn to this transportation model.

More importantly, the launch of another international rail freight transport would lay the foundation for growing  Vietnamese exports to Europe via railway services.