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North-South railway to get US$50 capital injection
  • | Hanoi Times | January 21, 2018 04:25 PM
The total investment in the railway route is estimated at more than US$50 billion, said the Ministry of Transport (MoT) on January 18.

This was the initial estimation based on the research of Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and Transport Engineering Design Inc (TEDI), said Nguyen Ngoc Dong, Deputy Minister of Transport. MoT “is finalizing the report to submit to the government sometime soon,” Dong said at the transportation sector’s year-end review.

If things go well, the project “could be tabled at the National Assembly for final approval to move on in 2019,” he added.

Industry analysts, however, recommended dividing the project into several phases in order to cut costs. “I think the project should be broken down into several sections, which would be easier to carry out and reduce costs,” said Vu Anh Minh, Chairman of Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR). Instead of getting the project done in one fell swoop, which may take at least 20 years, “it can be torn down into smaller sections costing some US$5-7 billion each,” he added.

Minh also reminded that non-State resources should be effectively mobilized and used for the project in order to reduce the burden on the State budget.

The Vietnamese government will draw up a master plan on constructing the new electrified 1,435mm double-line express railway on the North-South axis by the end of 2010, according to MoT.

The project is expected to take off in 2020 and finish in 2030, building infrastructure to accommodate trains travelling at the speed of 160km-200km per hour, even up to 350km per hour.

Vietnam has been talking about the North-South Express Railway for years now, but it has been delayed due to high costs. The Vietnamese railway industry also saw declining popularity. In 2016, the train passenger volume dropped by 17% compared to 2015 to 9.8 million, while during the first six months of 2017, it had 5 passengers, down 2.9% compared to the corresponding period last year, according to VNR’s statistics.

Hence, much effort has been put into upgrading Vietnam’s railway services to lure in more passengers. To this very end, VNR has recently launched six top-of-the-line trains at Saigon Train Station.

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