The Hanoi administration has launched an all-out campaign to crack down on makeshift cafés which have become popular photo spots along a railroad that snakes through the city’s crowded neighborhoods, after a train was forced on Sunday to make an emergency stop to wait for tourists to clear the tracks.
In a directive sent this week to the administrations of Hanoi’s districts through which the rail tracks pass, the municipal People’s Committee asked that local authorities increase inspection of establishments along the railroad to make sure safety violations are “timely detected.”
The districts are ordered to “strictly handle” violating businesses by October 12.
The crackdown began after a train which was leaving a Hanoi train station on Sunday afternoon was forced to make an emergency stop while passing Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District to avoid plowing into tourists, national television VTV reported.
|A tourist lies face-down across railway tracks in Hanoi for a photo shoot. Photo: AFP|
Those who gathered on the railroad for photos and drinks reportedly could not get off the tracks in time before the train arrived, forcing the operator to pull the brakes.
The incident caused the train to be delayed for a few minutes, according to VTV.
Makeshift cafés established along the railroad in Hanoi have become famous photo spots as they allow customers to sit and enjoy coffee just inches from the railway tracks.
The thrill of being so dangerously close to a passing train has been described by some tourists on travel review site TripAdvisor as “unique” and a “must-do” while visiting the Vietnamese capital.
|Visitors have drinks at cafés next to the railway track in Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre|
However, these café businesses have also raised safety concerns as they place their furniture and offer drinks right on the railway’s safety corridor.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Transport last week asked Hanoi to quickly clear the railway corridor in four districts - Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Dong Da, and Hai Ba Trung, where encroachment by “train track cafés” are most rampant.
“This is really a danger for social security, order and safety,” said Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong, who asked the capital authorities to shut down these railway cafés and prevent such businesses from reopening.
The ministry also sought to prohibit gathering and photography on or near the rail tracks.
VTV reported that the number of people visiting the cafés grew last weekend compared the previous following news of the shutdown order.
|Tourists pose on railway tracks in Hanoi. Photo: AFP|