Lines to be built to ferry tourists around city and to nearby destinations.
The Hanoi Department of Tourism and the Hanoi Railway Transport Joint Stock Company (Haraco) will organize professional tourism trains around the city and nearby tourism destinations and build the required railway lines.
The two will also improve service quality at Hanoi Railway Station. Tourists traveling in a group, for example, will have staff assigned to assist them. Trains from Hanoi - Lao Cai province, Hanoi - Ninh Binh province - Thanh Hoa province - Nghe An province - Ha Tinh province - Quang Binh province - Hue city - Da Nang city - Hoi An city, and Hanoi - Hai Phong city will also be improved to international standards.
They will also research the building of more railway lines to new tourism destinations and introduce related packages including travel and accommodation.
In the first half of this year, while the number of domestic passengers traveling by air has increased dramatically the number traveling by rail is on the decline. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), domestic airlines carried about 25 million tourists, a 29.7 per cent increase year-on-year, with domestic air passengers increasing 33 per cent.
In the same period domestic airlines such as Vietjet Air opened more domestic air routes, such as Hai Phong city - Phu Quoc Island, Hai Phong - Da Lat, Hai Phong - Buon Ma Thuot, and Thanh Hoa - Nha Trang. Meanwhile, Jetstar Pacific opened routes such as Hue - Nha Trang, Hanoi - Chu Lai, and Hanoi - Quy Nhon.
Flight frequency also increased, especially during the summer. Vietjet, for example, added more than 5,700 flights and offered over 1 million promotional tickets. Vietnam Airlines added 2,115 flights, equal to 662,000 seats.
While airlines are recording good growth the prospects for the railway sector are the opposite. Revenue from railway travel in first half was VND1.954 trillion ($87.6 million), or just 77.5 per cent of revenue collected in the same period last year.
Ms. Phung Thi Ly Ha, Deputy Director of Haraco, told a meeting on July 16 to review railway activities in the first half that the sector is facing fierce competition from airlines. A one-way flight from Hanoi to Da Nang costs VND600,000 ($26.9) against a sleeper ticket on the train for VND700,000 ($31.38). But if tickets were to be cut substantially the sector’s profitability would suffer.
The railway sector has indeed made many improvements to its ticketing and services at stations and on trains. The improvements have failed to win over passengers, however, and the sector must create a better travel experience at a cheaper price if it hopes to reclaim market share.