A recently opened short-distance train route connecting Ho Chi Minh City to the neighboring province of Binh Duong has met with positive public reaction, at a time when over a thousand passengers have taken the train on a daily basis since its commencement on Friday.
According to Dao Anh Tuan, general director at Saigon Railways, around 1,500 passengers boarded the train running from Saigon Station in Ho Chi Minh City to Di An Station in Binh Duong Province on Sunday morning, the second day the route has been in operation.
The collapse of the Ghenh Bridge on March 20 had disconnected railway stations from Dong Nai Province southward from the national railway network, initiating a plan by the state-owned Saigon Railways to offer round trips on a short-distance rail route between Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong Province at cheap fares to encourage citizens to travel by train to ease traffic congestion.
Fares for the service are set at VND5,000 (US$0.224) per journey for passengers traveling over less than two terminals, and VND10,000 ($0.448) per journey for those passing more than three terminals. Children under six can travel for free.
The route was officially opened on Friday, with 1,394 passengers boarding the train, 956 of whom traveled the entire route, while 438 left halfway, Tuan said.
These numbers increased dramatically on Sunday, as the country entered its public holiday, with around 1,500 passengers going on the train from 4:00 am to 11:00 am alone, according to Tuan.
The two carriages reserved for these short-distance passengers were fully packed, and additional stools had to be added to accommodate all travelers.
Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport, regarded this as a positive signal, as he said the train has helped increase the capacity of public transport and reduce traffic jams in the city.
According to Saigon Railways, passengers are not charged luggage fees, and only have to pay an extra VND5,000 ($0.22) for loading and unloading any accompanying motorbike at their stops.
Saigon Railways currently operates 22 trips lasting for 40 minutes each between Saigon Station and Di An Station.
The experimental rail route will be on stream until June 30, 2016, after which assessment of its effectiveness will be carried out to determine whether or not to keep it in operation, Tuan said.
Children look out the window of a suburban train plying between Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong Province on April 17, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Children are seen playing joyfully on a suburban train running between Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong Province on April 17, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A family with small children travels from Binh Duong Province to Ho Chi Minh City on a suburban train on April 17, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre