Northern Vietnam train services suspended for lack of passengers

By Doan Loan   March 15, 2020 | 09:00 pm PT
Northern Vietnam train services suspended for lack of passengers
A passenger train service between Hanoi and northern Lao Cai Province. Photo by VnExpress/Doan Loan.
State-owned train operator Haraco announced it will suspend services on routes between Hanoi and five northern provinces due to poor demand.

Haraco, formally known as Hanoi Railway Transport JSC, announced Saturday that it will suspend one of two pairs of daily trains running between Hanoi and Lao Cai Province, which borders China, from Monday.

Daily trains between Hanoi and Hai Phong City, Ha Long Town of Quang Ninh Province, Dong Dang Town of Lang Son Province and Thai Nguyen Town of Thai Nguyen Province will be reduced to one pair of trains going in either direction on each route, Haraco said.

The suspensions will start from Monday, while a specific date for service resumption has not been set by Haraco.

The company has decided to temporarily close these services because passenger numbers have declined sharply as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Pham Thi Anh Dao, head of Stations at Haraco.

Before the outbreak, each train between Hanoi and Lao Cai and Hai Phong carried on average 300-400 passengers, but this number has fallen to just over 100. Trains to Lang Son, Ha Long and Thai Nguyen only carry four or five passengers each trip, down from a few dozen before Covid-19, she said.

The company said it has had to isolate nearly 70 employees who had operated on trains carrying people who later tested positive for Covid-19 or are suspected of having contracted the coronavirus.

Haraco, which manages services in the northern region, has already stopped trains to China in mid-February, reduced the number of cars and ticket prices on domestic routes, saying the epidemic had reduced passenger numbers by 40 percent year-on-year.

Vietnam recorded 41 new cases since March 6, raising the total number so far to 57. All the earlier16 patients recovered and were discharged from hospitals by February 26.

The Covid-19 outbreak has thus far spread to 157 countries and territories, with the death toll climbing to over 6,500.

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