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Vietnam province proposes high-speed rail link with China

Wednesday, November 02, 2016, 15:08 GMT+7
Vietnam province proposes high-speed rail link with China
A north-to-south train runs past a street in Ho Chi Minh City.

The administration of a northern Vietnamese province bordering China has called on the government to consider its plan to build a new high-speed railway, compatible with the rail in the Chinese province of Guangxi.

Lang Son Province is currently connected with the capital Hanoi via the Hanoi – Dong Dang railway, which was put into use in May this year.

Despite the modernized rail system, the Lang Son administration wants a brand new high-speed service, saying it is essential to help improve the province’s transportation capacity and make it easier to connect with China.

The administration has submitted a document to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, calling on him to urge the Ministry of Transport and relevant agencies to “consider and soon implement a high-speed rail plan.”

The Hanoi – Dong Dang service currently runs on 1,435mm rail track at speeds ranging from 50 to 90kph. The modernized service cuts travel time from 5.5 hours to 3.5 hours.

But the Lang Son administration thinks it is not enough, and has proposed the construction of a brand new railway with speeds comparable to the Nanning-Pingxiang service in Guangxi, which travels at more than 100kph.

The proposed Hanoi – Dong Dang railway will then be linked to the Nanning – Pingxiang service to create a transnational train route, according to the proposal.

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In the document submitted to the premier, the Lang Son administration underlined that a new, high-speed rail service would “fully tap into the rail transportation potential [of Lang Son], boost Vietnam-China export-import turnover, and reduce pressure on road transport and controlling traffic accidents.”

The administration therefore suggested that “the Prime Minister ask relevant bodies to start implementing the high-speed Hanoi – Dong Dang railway project, including building an international standard rail station in Dong Dang in the 2016-20 period.”

The proposal came after Lang Son authorities and the Vietnamese transport ministry met with a visiting delegation from Guangxi in December 2015.

According to Dan Tri (Intellectual) newswire, the Chinese side then suggested allocating capital for Lang Son to build a new 200kph rail service connecting the province with Hanoi.

Not necessary

Commenting on the Lang Son proposal, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said it is not the first time a province has proposed building a rail service that links to China.

Other northern localities, including Hai Phong City and Lao Cai Province, have previously made similar propositions, according to the deputy minister.

“Of course if conditions permit it is good to have these rail services,” Dong said.

“However, under the current circumstances, these proposals must be carefully considered and analyzed.”

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Dong said the Hanoi – Lang Son rail service currently experiences poor demand for both passenger and cargo transportations. The transnational service between Nanning and Gia Lam in Hanoi are also currently serving few passengers, compared to the Hai Phong – Hanoi – Lao Cai rail service, which links to the Chinese province of Yunnan.

The deputy minister also noted that building a high-speed railway is not as simple as installing wider railway track.

“We need a number of other factors, including technology, investment, and operation capacity,” he said.

“Had it been that easy to build high-speed railways, the world would have been full of this kind of rail service.”

Even the current north-to-south train service, running between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is yet to get a speed upgrade, the deputy minister added.

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