North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

By Quynh Tran, Giang Huy   October 13, 2021 | 09:19 pm GMT+7
After a hiatus of nearly two months, the first trains of the North-South route resumed operations Wednesday, departing the Saigon Station with more than 400 passengers.
North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

At 5 a.m. Wednesday, passengers began arriving at the Saigon Station in District 3 to take the SE8 train that would end its journey in Hanoi.

It was the first North-South train to resume service after being suspended for nearly two months as part of Covid-19 restrictions.

Passengers had to sign a document guaranteeing that they've been fully vaccinated and they agree with quarantine measures to be followed at their destinations.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

Nguyen Thanh Van uses the steps as a prop to sign required papers before returning to his hometown in the central province of Khanh Hoa.

"I came to Saigon for treatment four months ago and have been stuck here till now. I am fully vaccinated, so I only have to self-isolate myself for a week," he said.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

At 5:30 a.m., employees begin to check passengers' tickets and other relevant documents.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

Passengers had to have their body temperatures checked and have either "Covid-19 green passes" or Covid-19 vaccination certificates. Negative results of Covid-19 tests done within the last 72 hours are also a must. Those who don’t meet all the requirements cannot board the train.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

Do Quang Van, director of the Saigon Railway Transport branch, said 142 passengers of 428 on board bought tickets to depart from Ho Chi Minh City on the very first day that ticket sales began. Most of the destinations were in central and northern Vietnam.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

Nguyen Thi Thanh, an employee at the station, checks the ticket and other relevant documents of a passenger.

"I've had to stay off work for two months due to the pandemic. For the last 12 years, I've never been off work for so long. The first day I got to return to work and meet my colleagues and passengers, I was so happy," she said.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

The Saigon Railway Transport company has said each train will have nine cars: two with seats and seven with beds. There are also special trains reserved for passengers from high-risk areas.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

Tran Thi Hong Nhung, 29, calls her husband with her daughter on her lap, informing him that they are safely on board.

"I came from Quang Binh to Ho Chi Minh City as a kindergarten teacher six years ago. For the past few months, the schools have been closed. I miss my hometown so much that I bought tickets the moment I heard trains will start running again," she said, adding that her husband would stay back in Ho Chi Minh City. She and her daughter would return once schools reopen, Nhung said.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

At 6 a.m., the SE8 train leaves the Saigon Station. Along the way, it would stop at 23 stations.

The Saigon Railway Transport Company said it would press more trains into service to meet demand.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

Some passengers could not get on board due to lacking certain requirements like being fully vaccinated or valid negative coronavirus tests.

Phan Thi Hang, 29, said she has only received one Covid-19 vaccine shot, so she was not allowed to board the train back to her hometown in Nghe An. Hang said she came to Binh Duong that borders HCMC as an informal worker, while her husband is a construction worker. While she and her child intended to go back to their hometown, her husband would stay back so he could pay off rent of the past few months.

"I'm calling for my husband to come pick me up. I did not look up regulations carefully so my hands are tied. I would have to wait for a different opportunity," she said.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

In Hanoi, at 11:45 a.m., a train from Hai Phong reaches the Long Bien Station. It is the first train to arrive in the capital ever since railway transport is allowed to re-operate.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

An employee at the Long Bien Station checks the papers of a passenger upon exiting the train: a vaccination certificate and a negative coronavirus test.

North-South trains get going on new normal tracks

Hoa is one among 36 passengers who return to Hanoi from Hai Phong, three months after she left the capital to evade the coronavirus.

 
 
go to top