Passengers buy train tickets for the Tet holiday at an agent in HCM City (Photo: VNA)
 
HCM City (VNS/VNA) — More than 24,000 train tickets out of 72,000 bookings made online for the Tet period (Lunar New Year holiday) were sold on the first day of sales on October 15 in HCM City. 

Vietnam Railways plans to offer 300,000 seats for the Tet holiday, which begins on February 16.

Sales were brisk despite a 3-5 percent increase in price compared to the holiday period last year, according to Vietnam Railways.

As of 5pm on October 15, more than 30 billion VND (1.32 million USD) worth of tickets were sold. Only 30 percent of the tickets were sold at Saigon 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 Vietnam 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 booking online.

[Railways announce extra trains for Tet 2018]

Nguyen Xuan Thinh of District 2 said: “The booking was easy to do online. I booked three bed tickets worth 1.4 million VND (62 USD) each from HCM City to Thanh Hoa province, departing on February 5.”  

Bookings can be reserved for up to 72 hours and passengers can pay online later or via banks, the Saigon train station or ticket agents.

Customers said it was more difficult to buy short-trip tickets, such as from HCM City to the central region (Ninh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, Binh Dinh, Quang Ngai provinces and Da Nang city), but it was easier to buy tickets for the HCM City-Hanoi route.

Chung Van Tai of Binh Thanh district said he could not buy a ticket to Da Nang on his desired date.

“As I’m aware, only tickets to Vinh and Hanoi cities are being sold on the first days, while tickets to the central region will be offered later,” he told Vietnam News. 

Meanwhile, Dang Phuong Linh of District 2 said she could not find a ticket to Quang Ngai. She ended up buying a ticket to Vinh, which cost more, but the train will drop her off at Quang Ngai.

“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.   

Dinh Van Sang, Deputy Director of Saigon Railway One-Member Liability Limited Company, said: “At the beginning of the selling period, we prioritise selling tickets to Hanoi (90 percent) as there will be no passengers travelling from the central region to Hanoi 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.

Vietnam Railways said the price of train tickets this year rose by 3-5 percent compared to last year, but some passengers said the price for some routes had increased by up to 20 percent.    

Meanwhile, if customers want a refund, they have to pay a fee equal to 30 percent of the ticket’s value, according to Vietnam Railways.

Launched in July 2014, the electronic ticket selling system has helped ease overload at ticketing offices of 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 percent of the total number of fares sold between 2015 and 2017.-VNA