Vietnam Railway Corporation (VRC) will knock up to 50 percent off the fares for passengers buying tickets two months ahead of departure and increase stops of certain north-south trains from next month to offer more conveniences to passengers, a local newspaper reported.

The fares will be discounted by 6-12 percent on average for the north-south trains departing from September 4 to December 31 this year, according to the Saigon Times Daily.

However, customers who buy tickets for the trips of over 1,300 kilometres and two months before departure will enjoy a 50 percent discount while those booking the tickets from 30 to 59 days ahead of departure will be entitled to a 30 percent discount.

Passengers will be provided with more choices for stops on the north-south line from September 4.

Accordingly, trains SE1 and SE2 will stop at the extra stations of Tuy Hoa, Bong Son, Huong Pho, Yen Trung and Cho Sy, while trains SE3 and SE4 will stop at Bien Hoa, Thap Cham, Tam Ky, Huong Pho, Yen Trung, Thanh Hoa, Ninh Binh, Nam Dinh and Phu Ly. Trains SE7 and SE8 will add Tam Ky, Yen Trung and Cho Sy stations to the itinerary.

The additional stops of north-south Train TN1 will be Phu Cang, Duc Pho, Ninh Hoa and Ma Lam stations, while those of Train TN2 will be Ma Lam, Ninh Hoa, Gia, Duc Pho and Phu Cang station. Trains SE21 and SE22 will have more five stops including Ma Lam, Nga Ba, Song Mao, Gia, and La Hai.

Earlier this year, Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang urged the railway sector to improve services and lower fares to make it affordable for more passengers as many fares of the north-south trains are higher than those offered by local low-cost airlines.

From this November VRC will sell tickets online under a deal recently signed with FTP-FIS-TeleHouse joint venture.

Started on July 31, the 197 billion VND (9.3 million USD) project will help install and perfect the online-selling systems by November 2015, making the service available on VRC website, vending machines at train stations or agents nationwide, VRC Deputy General Director Doi Sy Hung said recently.

Currently, railway transport accounts for only 0.5 percent of the total passenger transport market and 1 percent of total freight transport.

The sector plans to raise the rates to 13 percent of passenger transport and 14 percent of freight transport by 2020.-VNA