A railroad crossing on Kham Thien Street, Hanoi (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Vietnam Railway (VNR) aims to accelerate its growth to a rate of 8 percent in 2019 after suffering depression from 2015 to 2017.

The corporation also plans to utilise the 7 trillion VND (300 million USD) in funding approved by the National Assembly in September last year to upgrade four railway infrastructure projects.

“In spite of the severe fall between 2015 and 2017, VNR started recovering in 2018,” said Vu Anh Minh, head of the VNR Committee of Members. “We hope to sustain that momentum in 2019.”

Improvements in service quality will also be targeted as a part of VNR’s passenger-oriented strategies.

“We have built new trains which focus on offering genuine experiences and providing better services for tourists and passengers,” said Minh.

On January 10, 2018, six new five-star trains on the Reunification route connecting Hanoi and HCM City were launched. Passengers on these trains are offered hot meals prepared by the Southern Airports Services Joint Stock Company.

A meal worth about 30,000 VND (1.30 USD) is including with a ticket, and the ticket price remains unchanged.

According to a VNR report, its total revenue in 2018 was some 8.3 trillion VND (356 million USD), marking an increase of 1.9 percent. The average monthly income of its workers, therefore, was lifted 2.9 percent to reach 8.46 million VND (363 USD).

Last year, the corporation witnessed two important turning points. The revised Law on Railways went into effect in January and VNR was transferred from the Ministry of Transport to the State Capital Management Committee.

These changes affect the corporation’s operation.

“The transfer creates opportunities, and at the same time poses challenges for VNR, especially in balancing the relationship between the three involved sides,” said Nguyen Ngoc Dong, Deputy Minister of Transport. “While the committee only manages the state capital of 3.8 trillion VND (163 million USD), the ministry is responsible for the railway system.”

He stressed corporate restructuring and separating infrastructure management, maintenance and business to improve transparency.

In 2018, some 120 VNR workers, including officials, were fined or suspended for matters related to severe crashes.

These actions followed repeated accidents due to ill management and poor warning systems at crossings.

For example, a collision between a truck and the SE19 Express Train crossing Thanh Hoa province on May 24, 2018 killed two people and injured ten others. An officer and two employees in charge of ensuring safety at the crossing were detained for investigation.

Since June, 2018, VNR has piloted the operation of cameras at crossings to protect pedestrians and reduce accidents caused by railway staff.-VNS/VNA