Vietnam’s railway operator in Ho Chi Minh City has launched two high-quality trains for passengers during the peak season of Lunar New Year.
The two new trains, SE7 and SE8, were put into operation by Saigon Railways on Tuesday in order to serve passengers traveling between the southern city and Hanoi, as well as in an effort to strengthen its competitiveness against other forms of transport.
The SE7 and SE8, each with 11 passenger cars, began their first journey at 6:00 am from Saigon Railway Station in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.
“I feel very comfortable traveling on this type of train. It’s clean, runs fast but very smoothly, and the staff are very kind and friendly. Overall, I am extremely satisfied,” said Pham Thi Mien, 53, who was traveling with her two grandchildren to their hometown in the northern province of Nam Dinh.
The two new trains are the result of a project to renovate and improve the passenger cars that began in April 2015 with total capital investment of VND65 billion (US$2.91 million), according to Le Quoc Trung, deputy director of Saigon Railways.
Each of the trains is equipped with 512 seats and 140 berths as well as a buffet car designed to serve food and drinks to travelers, Trung said.
The high-quality trains are outfitted with modern equipment and furniture arranged in accordance with practical design, he said, adding that LED lights are installed in the sleeping carriages to create a pleasant atmosphere for passengers.
The trains are also stocked with thermocouples for passengers to adjust the indoor temperature according to their needs; and the toilets include septic tanks in order to contribute to environmental protection, the deputy director stated.
They are also designed to run faster, cutting travel time on the Ho Chi Minh City-Hanoi route down to 33 hours, Trung said.
The fare will remain the same as that of existing trains and is expected to decrease after the Lunar New Year holiday, he added.
The Lunar New Year is considered the biggest celebration in Vietnam. It falls on February 8, with travel and festive preparations and activities going on one week before and after that date.
All staff members have been trained at the Vietnam Aviation Academy and provided with additional foreign language courses in order to improve their service quality, Thai Van Truyen, head of the attendant group, said.
Chefs and waiters on the trains are trained in food safety and have their health checked on a regular basis, according to Truyen.
Breakfasts are served on the trains at a cost of VND25,000 ($1.12) per course while other meals fetch VND30,000 ($1.34), which are made from ingredients that have undergone strict inspection and quality assurance by competent authorities, he added.
Hanoi Railway Transport Company Limited on Tuesday also began the operation of two new high-quality trains SE5/6 traveling on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City route, with the investment capital of VND80 billion ($3.58 million).