Many people in southern Vietnam have rushed to return railway tickets as they skipped their hometown-returning plans for the Lunar New Year holiday for fear of new coronavirus outbreaks in ten provinces and cities in the past week.
The mass ticket return has taken place at Di An Station in Binh Duong Province, Saigon Station in Ho Chi Minh City, and Bien Hoa Station in Dong Nai Province.
The passengers started pouring to Di An Station in Binh Duong to return purchased tickets on Monday, right after the southern province announced its second community case of COVID-19 infection.
The number of people asking to return paid tickets at the Binh Duong-based station on Monday afternoon was so large that the Saigon Railway Transport Joint Stock Company (SARATRANS) ran out of cash for refunds, as it was unprepared for the sudden situation, according to general director Dao Anh Tuan.
The company has stopped accepting ticket returns and said it will issue further notice in the shortest time.
At the Saigon Railway Station in Ho Chi Minh City, passengers have flocked to return railway tickets since Tuesday morning.
SARATRANS had to deal with the crowd by asking each of the waiting people to choose a number of order to handle each case.
Dao Viet Thi, a passenger who had purchased a VND1.9-million (US$82.5) ticket for a round trip between Ho Chi Minh City and Quy Nhon City in south-central Binh Dinh Province on February 2 and February 16, said that SARATRANS claimed to pay him the refund by May 3.
“The pandemic has been complicated, so I returned the ticket,” Thi said.
|Passengers wait to return purchased tickets at Di An Railway Station in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam, February 1, 2021. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Tran Trung Nghia, a man hailing from the northern province of Ha Nam, decided to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, instead of going home for the Lunar New Year holiday, which is an occasion for family reunions and is just over a week away.
“At this point, safety and pandemic prevention are the top priorities, and health is the most important thing. After the pandemic is put under control, I will visit my hometown,” Nghia said.
Meanwhile, a few passengers chose to change their tickets for earlier departures.
At Bien Hoa Station in Dong Nai, people had queued up to return tickets by early Tuesday afternoon.
Most of them hail from northern and central localities.
According to the operator of Bien Hoa Station, more than 1,100 people came to give back tickets, with the equivalent value of more than VND1.3 billion ($56,474), on Monday alone.
Regarding the demand for ticket returns, the state-owned Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR) issued a guidance to passengers.
Accordingly, passengers can choose to save purchased tickets for later use within one year from the original departure date.
|Passengers wait to return purchased tickets at Bien Hoa Railway Station in Dong Nai Province, Vietnam, February 2, 2021. Photo: A Loc / Tuoi Tre|
Passengers can also opt to change the departure date for free of charge, and only pay the fare difference, if any.
Those who do not use the train tickets in 2021 will receive a full refund from January 1, 2022.
As for passengers wishing to return tickets, a refund will be made 90 days of the return date.
Vietnam has documented 1,891 coronavirus cases, including 1,003 domestic infections, as of Wednesday morning, with 1,461 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
The country announced the first two local cases on January 28 after having gone nearly two months without any community-based infection.
A total of 310 domestic infections have been documented in ten provinces and cities, including Hanoi, since then, according to the health ministry’s data.
The majority of the domestically-transmitted cases were linked to Hai Duong and Quang Ninh, both located in northern Vietnam.
The country confirmed 84 local transmissions on Thursday, 62 on Friday, 61 on Saturday, 31 on Sunday, 32 on Monday, 31 on Tuesday, and nine on Wednesday morning.