ca phe duong tau 450ed.jpg

When local authorities sent officers to the railway area and forced local café owners to shut down their shops, people believed this had put an end to the business.

While local authorities want to clear the railway area to ensure safety, citing the regulation of the Railway Law, economists argue that the move will deprive locals of their livelihood, and that this will harm Hanoi’s tourism, because railway cafes are favorite sites for both Vietnamese and foreign travelers.

However, contrary to the predictions that the ‘Train Street’ would become quiet as cafes shut down, many coffee shops have reopened.

In fact, the situation now varies on different sections of the street. While a section of the street is quiet, another section is full of visitors. The reason is that the two sections are put under control of two different districts.

On a section from Tran Phu to Phung Hung streets, belonging to Hoan Kiem district, some checkpoints have been set up and the police are there to prevent visitors from entering the area, and no café has opened. Therefore, visitors tend to go cafes in Ba Dinh district.

The railway café appeared in 2017-2018. There were over 30 railway cafes in Hoan Kiem district.  On the railway street section in Ba Dinh district, there are 16 households and 53 residents. Most of the residents have been living there for 80 years.

All of them are violating the railway corridor security.

In August 2022, the Vietnam Railways asked the Hanoi People’s Committee to join forces with the corporation to handle the travelers freely walking on the rails and taking photos, and to remove local cafes to ensure safety.

In reply, Ba Dinh and Hoan Kiem districts set barriers, put up warning boards prohibiting travelers to enter the area and arranged officers on 24/7 duty. However, after each campaign clearing the area and officers leaving, coffee shops opened again and continued attracting visitors.

The Police Station of Dien Bien ward reported that it fined seven households VND2.8 million in September and November. The violators had earlier promised to follow the regulations.

Some experts said they are sure that railway cafes will never disappearnunless municipal authorities relocate the railways out of the inner districts to the suburbs, or ask local residents to move to other localities.

The police of Dien Bien ward once requested the Hanoi Tourism Department to release a notice recommending foreign travelers not visit the area. But foreign travelers still wanted to visit the railway cafes thanks to information provided by tour guides or tour timetables. 

Nguyen Huu Duc, a traffic expert, said: “We need a solution that can harmonize the two things – maintaining the cafes to lure travelers and ensuring the security.” 

“Instead of a ban, it would be better to reorganize tourism activities in a professional way,” he said.

He added that it is necessary to control the Train Street methodically with clear regulations. Cafes must satisfy requirements about distances, barrier installation and opening time. Also, it is necessary to arrange security officers in the area in charge of giving warnings about upcoming trains.

Once regulations are clear, local households can plan their business and strictly observe the regulations, which will bring benefits to all parties.