Travel firms have decided to spend big money to upgrade railroads in an effort to persuade more people to travel by railways.
Despite the great advantages, railway tourism has never attracted medium and high income travelers because of the inconvenience they may experience when going by train.
According to Vu Dinh Rau, Head of the Hanoi Railway Station, it served 200,000 passengers on 2012 Tet days in total. The Hanoi station receives 7,000-8,000 passengers who travel on the routes to HCM City, Vinh, Hai Phong and Lao Cai, with five departures and five arrivals a day.
However, Rau admitted that the available incoming and outgoing trains every day can only meet 50 percent of the people’s demand. He agrees that it’s necessary to build up more railroads and trains to serve the increasingly high demand.
On a train to Lao Cai province
However, in the current poor conditions, it’s impossible to have too many carriages in order to ensure the high quality of services. Especially, since there are limited rails at the station, having more trains proves to be impossible.
As a result, long-distance trains have always been full of passengers with additional plastics seats put on the corridors of the railroads to serve more clients. These make trains overloaded and cause “traffic jam” right on the trains.
Travel firms have been repeatedly urged to upgrade railway services to attract more travelers, because this is really a reasonable means of transport for many people in the context of the economic recession.
Going on trains could also be the choice for high income travelers, who feel safe with the tours by land rather than by air. Especially, they don’t have to pay much for the trips, while they can enjoy the natural landscapes during their itineraries.
However, travel firms have argued that they alone cannot decide the quality of railway services. No big changes have been made in recent years, and the associated tourism services still cannot satisfy travelers.
Travelers have to get by to fit themselves to the small beds; therefore, they would not feel enjoyable with their trips. At night, when railroads’ windows are shut, the noise from outside still bothers travelers through the bad soundproofing windows. In many cases, the 40-50 year-old trains still have been put in use.
Though the noise is in “oversupply” on train, the loudspeakers do not work. Therefore, travelers do not know where they are and where they go. Only on some special trains, travelers can be informed in Vietnamese and English about the destinations and itineraries, while most of the others cannot.
Travelers have been warned that they should not be surprised, if the arrival time is one or two hours later than initially expected and if they are not warned about this.
Especially, no one can feel secure with the food served on the trains. The limited menus plus the sky high prices prompt people to bring food themselves instead of using services on the spot.
Travel firms have shown their determination to change the current situation, but it’s still unclear about how far their determination goes.
They have had carriages painted and interior decoration upgraded. Wooden furniture, night lamps, fresh flowers have been put on every carriage, while high quality meals have been offered to travelers.
However, in order to enjoy the services, travelers would have to pay 20 percent higher than normal passengers, the high fee level that makes travelers consider thoroughly before making decision.