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Enjoying the North-South Railway at cheaper prices in Vietnam

The Vietnam Railways Corporation announced this week to lower rail fares by 10% to 15% during the low season from September 5 to December 31. An opportunity to discover this mythical railroad.

HANOI- This rail line is one of the most famous in Southeast Asia. Constructed by the French administration during the colonial time, the Hanoi-Saigon railway opened in October 1936, linking both metropolises over 1,725 km. The rail has been also dragged into war. Divided from 1954 between North and South Vietnam, the rail line was also a target of bombs and explosions during the years of the Vietnam War. The symbolic of uniting together the parts of Vietnam through the rail explained why the North-South Railway reconstruction became a priority. It reopened in its integrity in December 1976. It was then renamed “Reunification Express”, despite the fact that it does not really deserve the term of “Express” as takes approximately 30 hours to ride from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

In the early 2000s, the government had a project to improve the performance of the line and even construct a high speed link. It was finally rejected by lawmakers who judged that it would both carry risk of destroying social structures and the environment. However, they are now plans to revive the development of a high speed rail network along the North South railway. Trains would cover the distance in slightly less than six hours at an average speed of 300 km/h. The government just approved the construction of the first section, a 370 km-long ride between HCM City and Nha Trang which would also link up with the future big Long Thanh International Airport due to replace the current Than Son Nat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Work is expected to start this year.

Meanwhile, before losing its authentic character through its modernisation, the Vietnam Railways Corporation gives to visitors an opportunity to enjoy at lower fares the landscapes and cities passed along the line. VRC announced to offer a 10-15% discount on rail fares on North South trains in the low season from September 5 to December 31. Prices will approximately range between VND 1,282,000 (US$ 62) one way to 1,996,000 (96 US$) for a luxurious air conditioned sleeper cabin.

Other fees and costs including extra seat fares, freight rates, passenger insurance, train fares for beneficiaries and other service costs in the low season will also be reduced under the current regulations.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.