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Vietnam unveils $9bn railway revamp plan to 2030

Saturday, September 19, 2015, 10:14 GMT+7

The Vietnamese railway system is set to be given a complete overhaul in the next 15 years under a two-phase revamp plan that costs a whopping US$9.11 billion in total investment.

The north-to-south railroad, running 1,726km from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, will be modernized in two separate phases, ending 2020 and 2030, respectively, Vietnam Railways, the state-owned operator of the country’s railway system, said as it took the wraps off the overhaul plan on Friday.

The first phase, dubbed the “basic upgrade plan,” will include improvement of the bottlenecks of the railway system; relocating the train station in the central city of Da Nang to the suburban area; reconstruction of weak bridges; and repairs of 91 railroad sections, according to the plan.

In the second phase, called the “advanced upgrade plan,” the railway system will be enhanced further, whereas the Vietnam Railways will also buy 14 new passenger trains locomotives, and 24 cargo ones.

The basic plan is expected to consume VND85.21 trillion, or $3.96 billion, while the advanced one needs VND110.87 trillion, or $5.15 billion.

Improvement of the train speed is also one of the priorities of both plans. Passenger trains now travel on the north-to-south railroad at a speed of 60 – 70kph.

By 2020, the speed is expected to be increase to 84.4kph, and 95.7kph by 2030, according to the Vietnam Railways.

The costly overhaul plans will be funded by the state budget, government bonds, official development assistance, or investment from private transportation firms through the build-operate-transfer or build-transfer schemes, according to the Ministry of Transport, which manages the Vietnam Railways.

There are many level crossings along the cross-country railway, but the revamp plans do not mention any construction of flying junctions, which raises doubt among experts that the train travel speed can be improved.

It was reported last month that the construction of a high-speed railway system running from north to south is included in the master plan to develop Vietnam’s train transportation in the next 15 years.

The cross-country double-track railway will allow trains to travel at a maximum speed of 160kph – 200kph during its first stage, and will later be upgraded to allow speeds of up to 300kph, according to the plan recently approved by the Vietnamese government.

The plan said the feasibility of constructing the new high-speed railway should be studied from now to 2020 so that construction can start in 2030.

But the Vietnam Railways did not mention the project in its overhaul plan on Friday.

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