Hanoi Railway Transport JSC has spent about VND5 billion (US$203,600) to upgrade 28 coaches of its Hanoi-Danang train, improving the interior, design and decoration, and sanitary conditions.
|SE19 and SE20 train drivers and attendants. Photo: The Hanoi Times|
The upgrade aims to improve service quality and attract more passengers to travel by train in Vietnam. So far, it has received positive feedback from both Vietnamese and foreign travelers.
All carriages have been renovated, redesigned, and upgraded. The interiors are all polished and every detail is well taken care of by the attendants, especially the toilets and washbasins.
All attendants have undergone English training and are required to maintain a neat, polite, and recognizable appearance.
Fares will remain unchanged. The maximum fare for a Hanoi-Danang trip is more than VND1 million ($40.63). The train leaves Hanoi at 7:50 p.m. and arrives in Danang at 12:12 p.m. the next day, code SE19. The return train, code SE20, departs Danang at around 6:05 p.m. and arrives in the capital at 11:46 a.m. the following day.
The train's captain, Le Hung Nam, said the upgraded train brings breakthroughs to the railway sector and is the best in design and service quality.
"There is a QR code in each car. Passengers only need to scan the QR code to order the services and items, which will be delivered within 2-3 minutes," Nam told The Hanoi Times.
Tran Nam Hai, Director of the Quang Binh head office of Sai Gon-Hanoi Joint Stock Commercial Bank, often travels to Hanoi for business, and the train is not his priority due to hygiene and sanitation issues.
"I used to travel by train when I was young, but I still have memories of bad smells and dirty toilets. With the upgrading of the Hanoi-Danang train, or the SE19 train, my perception of the Vietnamese train has changed," he said.
"The toilets are clean, the air conditioners are set at a reasonable temperature, and the staff are friendly and dedicated. I think I will continue to travel by train next time for its safety and convenience," he told the Vietnam News Agency.
Nguyen Nhu Hien, from Hanoi's Cau Giay district, said she prefers to travel by air. Taking the train for the first time, she said it was much cleaner and nicer than she thought, and the fare was acceptable.
Like Hai, the Hanoi woman said she would use the train again for traveling.
Not only are Vietnamese passengers impressed by the upgrades, but foreign travelers are also excited to board the train because they can have a good time while traveling, be accommodated in a fragrant and tidy cabin, and look out the train window at Vietnam's diverse landscape.
|The cabin is redecorated and equipped with new amenities. Photo: Quang Hai/The Hanoi Times|
German tourist Louisa Reimann planned to fly from Hanoi to Danang to save time. She changed to the Hanoi-Danang train at the last minute and it turned out to be the right choice.
Susanne was happy about the cheap fare and the arrival time was almost the same as the hotel check-in time. She was also delighted when the train passed over the Hai Van Pass and treated her to some magnificent scenery.
Sam Meakin, James Gee, and Michael Clowes, all from Britain, told Vietnamnet that it costs them about GBP70 (US$85.6) to travel from London and Manchester, and the price of the Hanoi-Danang route is half of this fare.
Passengers suggested that the train needs more services such as wireless internet, movies and books, and faster travel speeds.
"We will set up VIP waiting lounges at major stations such as Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Dong Hoi, Hue, and Danang from October 20," said Dang Sy Manh, Chairman of the Member Board of VNR.
Passengers taking SE19, SE20, and other high-quality trains will enjoy VIP waiting lounges, a private lane to board the train and bus transfers, he said, adding that the train operating on other routes will also be upgraded under this model.
"The upgrade of the Hanoi-Danang train will ensure that passengers enjoy new experiences during their journey," said Hoang Gia Khanh, general director of VNR.
According to Nguyen Ngoc Canh, Deputy Chairman of the State Capital Management Committee, VNR has carried out an overhaul and introduced new tours for passengers, such as the food tour between Hanoi and Haiphong, which have attracted the interest of both Vietnamese and international travelers.
He recommended that VNR introduce more products, apply IT solutions in operations, and raise service standards to meet market expectations.