The Vietnam Railway Corporation (VNR) aimed to continue creating conditions for railway transport companies to improve their competitiveness and ensure railway traffic safety, Deputy General Director Pham Cong Trinh said at a recent workshop.

This year, the sector would also continue taking measures to improve railway services and "manage ticket prices" better, according to Trinh.

In 2014, the number of railway accidents dropped by 6.1 percent. There were also fewer delays, Trinh said, pointing out that nearly 100 percent of Thong Nhat trains departed and arrived on time in the fourth quarter.

The launching of an online booking system in December made it easier and fairer for passengers to buy tickets, particularly during busy times like Tet, as customers could now use their phones to purchase tickets rather than going to the station and waiting in a long queue, he said.

Train transport accounts for 0.5 percent of the total passenger transport market and 1 percent of total freight transport. The sector aims to raise these rates to 13 percent of passenger transport and 14 percent of freight transport by 2020.

Speeding up
As part of the plan to realise the targets, the VNR will equitise 15 rail bridge maintenance and five railway communications companies next year and withdraw capital from non-core businesses.

The corporation finished the equitisation process for five member companies in 2014, selling all shares offered.

"VNR plans to stay focused on its core business: railway management," said Deputy Director General Doan Duy Hoach.

VNR will continue to withdraw capital from businesses operating in mining, construction and tourism, which are unrelated to its core function.

It will also reduce its stake in the Transport Investment and Construction Consultant JSC to less than 20 percent, in addition to lowering its stake in the Railway Construction Corporation JSC and Investment and Construction 3 and 6 to less than 30 percent.

"After the completion of the equitisation process, VNR will allow companies to bid for transportation businesses on high-demand routes, creating a fair playing ground for all," the deputy director general said.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said VNR must strengthen management capacity and keep operations and safety up to standard while implementing the restructuring plan and capital withdrawal.

Regarding VNR's restructuring plan, the minister said the corporation planned to carefully study customer demand and detect any overweight cargo, as VNR managers would be held responsible for weight violations found under their management.

The minister ordered VNR to ensure smooth transportation for the upcoming New Year and Tet holiday.

The corporation asked the Ministry of Transport and Government to come up with policies to address the number of surplus employees that resulted from VNR's restructuring process.-VNA