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Model train of Chinese-funded railway in Hanoi gets negative feedback

Friday, October 30, 2015, 13:31 GMT+7
Model train of Chinese-funded railway in Hanoi gets negative feedback
A security guard stands next to the model train of the Cat Linh - Ha Dong urban railway project in Hanoi on October 29, 2015.

Transport authorities in Hanoi are seeking public opinion on the design of the trains that will run on the Chinese-contracted urban railway in the capital, and the very first comments have not been very encouraging.

A model train, designed by China's Beijing Subway Rolling Stock Equipment Co., of the Cat Linh – Ha Dong project, will be on display at the Giang Vo Exhibition Center for the next month, according to the Ministry of Transport.

Members of the public and experts are encouraged to give their feedback on the design so that the ministry can work with the train maker on changes, Deputy Minister of Transport Vo Hong Truong told reporters after a media trip there on Thursday.

Deputy Minister of Transport Vo Hong Truong speaks to the media. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The model train, however, was immediately greeted with negative feedback yesterday, the first day of display.

The design of the railway car, as well as its green color, was said to be not beautiful or modern enough.

Le Kim Thanh, director of the Railway Project Management Unit, admitted that the look of the model train car has attracted negative comments.

“The train will travel at only 35kph so we do not want to have a shark-like or bullet-like train like those that travel on high-speed rails,” Thanh said.

Truong, the deputy transport minister, asserted that the train bears the “most suitable design for the Vietnamese environment.”

“We have worked with both Chinese and Vietnamese designers to create a beautiful and modern train,” he told reporters.

“The design is good, on a par with contemporary advanced trains, while the interior is elegant.”

The green color of the model train is said to be similar to that of Mai Linh taxis or some local waste collecting vehicles, but Truong said the color is soft, elegant and “suits a green-clean-beautiful Hanoi.”

“Hanoi is a city of peace so this green is suitable,” he said.

The transport ministry, however, will listen to all negative comments regarding the train color, the deputy minister added.

“We will combine all of the feedback and comments and will publicize them to the media,” he said.

Inside the model train. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Vietnam will buy 13 four-car trains for the Cat Linh – Ha Dong project under a $63.2 million supply contract, with the first complete train slated for delivery in May 2016.

A pilot run is scheduled for September 2016 before the project officially goes on stream.

The Cat Linh – Ha Dong project is developed by the transport ministry’s Vietnam Railway Authority, whereas China Railway Sixth Group, a subsidiary of construction conglomerate China Railway Group, is the EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) contractor.

The Railway Project Management Unit said earlier this week it is seeking approval from the transport ministry to increase the total investment in the project to US$868.04 million from the previous estimate of $552.86 million.

The train cab. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The project broke ground in October 2011, with $419 million of the initial investment estimate covered by China’s official development assistance (ODA) loans.

China will add $250.62 million to cover part of the $315.18 million cost overrun, whereas the Vietnamese side will increase its capital contribution to $198.42 million from the previous $133.86 million, according to the project management unit.

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