Việt Nam's 3,000km flower-path project takes root, but safety concerns loom

April 14, 2023 - 08:36
The flower path will feature specific flowers that represent the 34 provinces and cities that it passes by, according to Đặng Sỹ Mạnh, General Director of the Vietnam Railways Corporation, which is in charge of the railway line.
An area in District 3, HCM City where the north-south railway line passes by is filled with flowers. — Photo

As Việt Nam aims to build the longest flower path of its kind in the country, stretching over 3,000km along the north-south railway line, many experts and residents have applauded the plan as a potential tourist draw, though concerns over railway safety have also been raised.

The flower path will feature specific flowers that represent the 34 provinces and cities that it passes by, according to Đặng Sỹ Mạnh, general director of the Vietnam Railways Corporation, which is in charge of the railway line.

He said that creating the flower path will take place from March 2023 to March 2025, and its budget will be mobilised from the private sector, as the railway sector is struggling.

Many routes in the north-south railway have been voted the world’s most beautiful, with many stations bearing significant historical and cultural values, he said.

With the theme “Every route features a representative flower, every station is a destination,” the flower path is expected to become a tourist attraction and help visitors easily identify the region they are passing by through the flowers they see, the official said.

Many households living close to the railway line have already planted flowers along the line.

The Sài Gòn Railway Joint Stock Company is also making a flower path along the railway line; this is also the plan of the Vietnam Railways Corporation.

Architect Khương Văn Mười, former chairman of the HCM City Architects Association, said he agrees with this plan.

He said in areas with wide corridors, there should be wide-spreading trees that can both create green spaces in the city and make the landscape more beautiful.

Low, small trees that can bloom all year round, such as moss roses, mock lemon and roses, should be planted in narrow areas.

Each area, such as wards and communes, should have only one or two types of flowers to create a consistent colour array without being cluttered. When there are uniformly designed green areas, a beautiful landscape will be created, he said.

To ensure consistency, he said it is necessary to conduct research at stations, roads, barrier stations and corridors along both sides of the railway.

Việt Nam's north-south railway route has been hailed among the world’s most scenic. — Photo

Concerns over safety

Many residents in HCM City also expressed their concerns about the caring of plants along the flower paths and the risk to railway safety as many young people may flock to the railway track to take pictures, online newspaper Dân trí (Intellectuals) reported.

Nguyễn Văn Hồng, a 66-year-old resident in Phú Nhuận District where the railway passes through, said people in his neighbourhood had been voluntarily tidying up the area and planting flowers in front of their houses near the railway line.

Earlier, the ward authority bought and planted a few here, but they all died. Residents used their own money to buy similar plants and grow them.

“If the area is left empty, people will throw garbage in anyway," Hồng said.

Phan Văn Chiến, 51 years old, who works as a railway crossing guard in Phú Nhuận District, has witnessed many changes in the residential areas where the railway passes through in the past 27 years.

"In the past, cars or motorbikes usually stopped very close to the tracks," he said. "Before the train arrived, staff like me had to come and move the vehicles to make sure they were not so close to the track. At that time, houses were also very close to the track.”

Later, he said the city set a scope of railway safety corridor so there is more tree space.

Chiến said guards like him couldn't care for all the flowers and bonsais planted on the route they were in charge of.

He also expressed safety concerns.

Many families plant very tall trees or have them very close to the track. The owners must get into the tracks to take care of the tree, which puts them at risk.

Moreover, in locations with beautiful trees, like the Lê Văn Sỹ Street area in Ward 9, Phú Nhuận District, young people often gather on the tracks to take pictures, which is a violation of railway traffic safety.

He said he hoped that the authorities should take measures to raise people's awareness, arrange more cameras and impose appropriate penalties for these cases.

Careful research needed

Trần Văn Sửu, a former lecturer at the University of Transport and Communications, said he liked the idea of the flower path, adding that it can become an interesting destination for international tourists.

If successfully implemented, this will be one of the highlights in Việt Nam’s travel map, helping to attract more local and international tourists to travel by railway.

For many, especially international tourists, using the train is not just a matter of commuting but also a part of the travel experience and the chance to roll through the spectacular landscapes of Việt Nam.

There are only a few routes of the railway that have flowers and trees, such as the one passing Lê Văn Sỹ, with huỳnh liên vàng (yellow bell flower).

Some railway stations in the central province of Quảng Bình are also filled with flowers and trees.

However, many parts of the north-south railway line is full of garbage, such as plastic bags and food box, which leaves a negative impression of a sloppy area.

However, many things need to be carefully considered, especially the safety issue of the railway corridor, Sức khoẻ & Đời sống (Health&Life) newspaper reported.

Currently, the north-south railway passes through many different terrains, including mountainous places with complex geomorphology. The selection of crops for these areas needs careful consideration.

When choosing types of trees and flowers to plant, it is necessary to choose those with a low canopy that are not dense and do not block the view of train drivers to ensure the safety of the route.

Types of trees and flowers that are easy to prune and replace should be used.

In addition, the cost of caring for and maintaining flowers and trees is high, as this is a long route, the newspaper reported.

Architect Mười said the selection and planting of flowers must be based on the conditions of the area and characteristics of each locality where the railway passes.

He also stressed the importance of ensuring a safe distance for the railway safety corridor.

Mesmerising train route

The north-south railway is the inter-provincial route under the management of Vietnam Railways Corporation, connecting Hà Nội and HCM City.

It passes by most localities that lie between the two ends of the country, including Hà Nam, Nam Định, Ninh Bình, Thanh Hóa, Nghệ An, Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên-Huế, Đà Nẵng, Quảng Nam, Bình Định, Phú Yên, Khánh Hòa, Ninh Thuận, and Bình Dương.

It has been hailed among the world’s most scenic routes many times.

In 2022, Sputnik recommended the railway for romantic scenes, especially in the pristine central coastal region.

In 2018, Lonely Planet, one of the world’s largest travel guidebook publishers, also named Việt Nam’s railway route the top of the most amazing train journeys. — VNS