MOL
HANOI, VIETNAM-Some Londoners might joke that it’s the sort of location for which they would probably pay a premium. This railway line is so close to shops and homes that huge trains are forced to squeeze past market traders, pedestrians and playing children.
The route in the centre of Hanoi, Vietnam, cuts through tight streets in the city’s old town district, heading to Long Bien Bridge. The track is so close to buildings that locomotives, which negotiate the line twice a day, brush past people nearby. Residents have to move out of the way and even dismantle shop displays when the train is approaching.
Ashit Desai photographed the people who live next to the railway while he was on holiday in Vietnam’s capital city.
The 54-year-old from Bangalore, India, said: ‘People go about their regular lives around this railway.
‘There are barbershops, people selling goods, chefs cooking food and kids running around - all within inches of the tracks.
‘The locals know when the train is coming so they all move out of the way - it is a part of their routine. Old men will sit on the tracks all day. ‘Then, as it approaches four or six o’clock, they get up, move their chairs a metre away from the track and continue talking while the train goes past. ‘When the track is clear they move back into the middle.’ Railway-related accidents account for 2 per cent of all deaths annually in Vietnam.
Many deaths occur at illegally-built crossings with no barriers or warning signs. There are an estimated 5,000 illegal railroad crossings in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government is currently seeking more than £1billion of investment to improve safety features on its nearly 2,000 miles of railway.