Tourists and cafe owners along Hanoi’s “train street” spoke of their disappointment Friday as the hotspot was closed due to safety concerns, just weeks after reopening following a long Covid-19 closure.
The narrow corridor in the Vietnamese capital drew hordes of tourists before the pandemic, each eager to grab a selfie or watch a train rumble past one of the fashionable eateries set just a metre from the track.
Safety concerns prompted the street’s shutdown in 2019 but many businesses quietly opened in recent weeks, keen to cash in on the tourist revival after Vietnam reopened to visitors earlier this year.
Nguyen Thi Thu had begun to see her cafe recover.
“The tourists had come back and we were earning enough to make a living,” she told AFP.
Built by colonial rulers, the railway once transported goods and people across French Indochina and is still in use by communist Vietnam’s state-run rail company.
The stretch of tracks on “train street”, once in an area occupied by drug users and squatters, was transformed after social media users began sharing photos and locals realised the business potential.
On Friday, the kilometre-long line was blocked off by police — though a nearby section of track remained open.
A local official told state media the businesses along the street were violating railway safety rules.
Jay Arriola, from the UK, told AFP he was miffed that the cafes were closed after being told about the site by his girlfriend.
“It is a bit of a disappointment,” he said.
“I wanted to go to a cafe that has a top level… (to have) a perspective on the train going through that trail between the houses,” adding that “a top deck might be safer”.
Keeping customers safe had been part of cafe owner Thu’s daily routine.
“When it was time for the train to pass by, we asked all guests to move in, there was no danger at all.”
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