Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — More than 24,000 train tickets out of 72,000 bookings made online for the Tết period (Lunar New Year holiday) were sold on the first day of sales on Sunday in HCM City.
Việt Nam Railways plans to offer 300,000 seats for the Tết holiday, which begins on February 16.
Sales were brisk despite a 3-5 per cent increase in price compared to the holiday period last year, according to Việt Nam Railway.
As of 5pm on Sunday, more than VNĐ30 billion (US$1.32 million) worth of tickets were sold. Only 30 per cent of the tickets were sold at Sài Gòn Railway Station while the remaining were sold online.
Each customer was allowed to buy no more than four single tickets to avoid speculation, according to Việt Nam Railway.
Tens of thousands of online transactions were made during peak hours on the first day, four times higher than the period last year.
This year, the electronic ticket selling system for the holiday has been upgraded, with more customers now used to booking online.
Nguyễn Xuân Thịnh, of District 2, said: “The booking was easy to do online. I booked three bed tickets worth VNĐ1.4 million ($62) each from HCM City to Thanh Hoá Province, departing on February 5.”
Bookings can be reserved for up to 72 hours and passengers can pay online later or via banks, the Sài Gòn train station or ticket agents.
Tickets for short trips
Customers said it was more difficult to buy short-trip tickets, such as from HCM City to the central region (Ninh Thuận, Khánh Hoà, Bình Định, Quảng Ngãi provinces and Đà Nẵng City), but it was easier to buy tickets for the HCM City-Hà Nội route.
Chung Văn Tài, of Bình Thạnh District, said he could not buy a ticket to Đà Nẵng on his desired date.
“As I’m aware, only tickets to Vinh and Hà Nội cities are being sold on the first days, while tickets to the central region will be offered later,” he told Việt Nam News.
Meanwhile, Đặng Phương Linh, of District 2, said she could not find a ticket to Quảng Ngãi. She ended up buying a ticket to Vinh, which cost more, but the train will drop her off at Quảng Ngãi.
“We should be informed in advance when the short-trip tickets are going to be available, so customers don’t waste time going to the station,” she said.
Đinh Văn Sang, deputy director of Sài Gòn Railway One-Member Liability Limited Company, said: “At the beginning of the selling period, we prioritise selling tickets to Hà Nội (90 per cent) as there will be no passengers travelling from the central region to Hà Nội during the pre-holiday period, which could cause a huge loss for us.”
Sang, however, said the number of tickets for shorter trips to central regions would increase in the coming days.
Việt Nam Railways said the price of train tickets this year rose by 3-5 per cent compared to last year, but some passengers said the price for some routes had increased by up to 20 per cent.
Meanwhile, if customers want a refund, they have to pay a fee equal to 30 per cent of the ticket’s value, according to Việt Nam Railways.
Launched in July 2014, the electronic ticket selling system has helped ease overload at ticketing offices at railway stations and ticket purchases via illegal channels during peak seasons.
The system can receive one million log entries at the same time.
More than 15 million train tickets have been purchased with the electronic ticket selling system, accounting for 13-19 per cent of the total number of fares sold between 2015 and 2017. — VNS