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Oct 12, 2021 / 17:53

Vietnam to resume intercity railway service on Oct 13

Compliance with safety requirements will lead to more costs for bus operators amid low demand.

Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR), the State-owned operator of the railway system in the country, started selling tickets for some major railway lines from Oct 13 as the Covid-19 pandemic has been basically controlled.

 Railway will resume welcoming passengers from Oct 13. Photo: VNA

VNR will run two passenger trains Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Hanoi-Haiphong for passengers who are fully vaccinated and tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 within 72 hours before departure.

According to Pham Thi Anh Dao, head of Hanoi Railway Transport, tickets are sold at stations and online via Facebook and Zalo social platforms.

Passenger trains depart from Hanoi and HCMC will stop at 23 stations running on the North-South railway from Hanoi to HCM City.

Other passenger trains connecting Hanoi and Haiphong will be subject to the pilot plan that will last until Oct 20. After the trial period, VNR will review the operations and prepare for the expansion to meet the demand.

In the same move, intercity passenger transport among localities across the country is expected to resume on Oct 13.

The operations of city-to-city buses among Covid-free and low-risk areas will be piloted until Oct 20 following a direction by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh released last weekend.

Eligible passengers are double-dosed people, recovered Covid-19 patients, and those unvaccinated with negative RT-PCR/antigen results within 72 hours. Those coming from high-risk areas need to be fully vaccinated and tested negative for the virus.

Meanwhile, bus drivers and attendants are vaccinated and tested for the virus every three days.

Each bus’ seating capacity needs to be limited to 30%.

Sharing with The Hanoi Times, Nguyen Duy Ninh, director of Ninh Quynh Co., Ltd said “it’s good news for transport firms, however, we’re afraid that the number of passengers will be less than expected.” As the pandemic has improved for a short time, the demand for traveling remains low as people are hesitant to travel at this moment.

Dr. Nguyen Xuan Thuy, a transport expert, said safety requirements are compulsory, yet full vaccination and tests every three days for drivers and bus attendants remain barriers for them. It costs time and money of transport operators amid low demand, he noted.

Covid-19 has left a hard year for VNR as the widespread transmission put brakes on its operations nationwide. In 2019, the number of passengers taking the train was already down 6.9% on-year. Pandemic restrictions have worsened this.

Intercity transport though remains one of the most convenient means of transport has faced a drop in the number of passengers as Covid-19 attacked the country. Resuming operations amid low demand would largely result in losses due to fuel and maintenance costs, and salaries for drivers and attendants, Nguyen Duy Ninh said.