Mixed reviews about Trans-Vietnam high-speed rail project

VietNamNet Bridge - Officials of the transport ministry say that a north-south high-speed railway is urgently neededto meet the transport requirements of cargo of large quantities, but some experts and former National Assembly deputies do not support the project, concerned that public debt will increase.


A high-speed train in Japan.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said the transport ministry was conducting pre-feasibility studies of the high-speed rail. 

The pre-feasibility report will analyze the effectiveness, scale, ability to raise funds and a timetable. 

Dong said the ministry would try to submit the report to the Government in the next two years. If this report is approved by the National Assembly, the ministry will carry out the project to mobilize funds for the project.

"The report will clarify investment performance, with the best evaluation of the State. The National Assembly will make the final decision," Dong said.

Doan Duy Hoach, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam Railways Corporation, said owing to the limited infrastructure of the existing rail system, railway transport has not met the demand of passengers. 

Hoach said there are up to 300 weak bridges on the north-south railway so the load and speed of trains are restricted (less than 80 km/h for passenger ships and 50 km/h for cargo trains). 

"The advantage of railway transport is to carry large volumes of cargo for a long distance and high safety, but to meet the needs of the people, the speed of passenger trains must be increased to over 100 km/h. It is ideal to have the north-south high-speed rail," he said.

Nguyen Van Thanh, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Automobile Transport, also supported this project.

Thanh said a country of this size should not rely on road transport, which accounts for over 60% of the transport structure. In the future, passengers will no longer take a bus for distance of over 300k for their safety.

"Vietnam ought to have built high-speed rail system decades ago but it is better late than never," he said.

Former National Assembly deputy Nguyen Minh Thuyet said that Vietnam should not resume this project at this moment. 

He said that high-speed rail will not appeal to many users because of high ticket prices,and they will not be allowed to take a lot of luggage with them.

Thuyet also worried that the implementation of a multi-million USD project will be a burdenon the state budget, which is now in deficit.

He said that instead of investing in the high-speed rail system, the government needs to upgrade and expand the existing railway to increase transport capacity.

In 2010 the government’s plan to develop the $56 billion high-speed railway was not approved by the NA due to cost.

In 2015 the government approved the development strategy for Vietnam’s railway transport to 2020 and vision to 2050, targeting the development of railway infrastructure and the high-level management of transport and services.

Under this strategy the railway sector targets accounting for about 1-2 percent of the passenger transport market and 1-3 percent of cargo transport by 2020. It also aims to capture 4-5 percent of the urban passenger transport market in major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Existing railway lines are to be upgraded, with priority given to modernizing the north-south line to increase the average speed to 80-90 km/h for passenger trains and 50-60 km/h for goods trains, and improving transport capacity and quality.

The railway sector will also focus on upgrading key railway stations and those catering to large numbers of passengers and gradually removing all level crossings.

A 1.435-mm gauge high-speed dual track on the north-south line is to be built and necessary preparations made for the construction of sections with high transport demand, especially those in regions such as Hanoi-Vinh and Ho Chi Minh City-Nha Trang.

From 2020 to 2030 the strategy targets accounting for 3-4 percent of the passenger transport market, 4-5 percent of goods transport and 15-20 percent of urban passenger transport in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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Linh Nhat

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