What’s On

Plane or train? Vietnam's railway network to offer airline-class services to win back passengers

By Doan Loan   July 7, 2017 | 04:00 pm GMT+7

If you can't beat them, join them.

Vietnam Railways has been blaming budget airlines for its dwindling passenger numbers in recent years. As a result, the company has decided to win back lost customers by transforming itself into an airline on rails.

The railway company has decided to work with the Aviation Academy to retrain its attendants, and will be providing its passengers with meals similar to those served by airlines, according to Vu Anh Minh, chairman of the company's board of directors.

In addition, it's planning to roll out six new first class trains before the end of the year.

Hanoi Railway Station, one of the country's main railway hubs, will also be refurbished with a new VIP lounge, providing high-class services for passengers before they board their trains, he added.

“The railway network won't change overnight, so we need to change service quality first,” Minh said.

Vietnam's railway operators have been taking measures in recent months to win back passengers. The first half of the year saw 23 new coaches and 63 refurbished coaches put into use. Operators have also offered a number of promotions including 50 percent discounts and random VND10,000 ($0.44) tickets for passengers who use its electronic booking system.

Restaurant cars have also been introduced on new first-class trips along popular routes, and major stations across the country have started offering free wi-fi.