Vietnam’s National Traffic Safety Committee on Wednesday issued a message warning about increased railway accidents and calling for more action to improve the situation.
>> Train hits truck, throwing three carriages off railway, killing engine driver in Vietnam In the message, which was sent to the Ministry of Transport, the Vietnam Railways Corporation (VRC), and all local units of the committee nationwide, the committee said that railway accidents are on the rise. During the nine-day Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, from February 15 to 23, 10 accidents occurred on rail lines, leaving nine dead and three injured, the committee said, adding that most of these accidents took place at intersections between railways and roads. Most recently, a serious accident took place between a passenger train and a truck on the night of March 11 on a section of the north-south railway in Hai Lang District in the central province of Quang Tri, killing the engine driver and severely injuring three people, including the truck driver, the committee said. The train hit the truck when the latter, carrying rocks, was crossing the line, the agency added. Damage from the accident has been calculated at VND23 billion (over US$1 million). The committee stressed that most accidents have been caused by drivers who neglected traffic rules while crossing rail lines.More effort needed for safety improvement In order to improve railway traffic safety, the committee has asked the transport ministry to direct the VRC to strengthen supervision of work performance of guards at intersections (with barriers) between the railway and roads to ensure whether they comply with safety regulations. The VRC must regularly inspect safety control devices along the railway system nationwide and provide the public with safe regulations when operating vehicles through railways. The Vietnam Road General Department must coordinate with the VRC in installing signboards and warning boards at all unguarded intersections to ensure safety. The committee also requested that traffic police join hands with VRC inspectors to detect and punish those who violate railway safety regulations at intersections equipped with barriers and automated warning devices. At intersections that have no barriers or such devices but have a high traffic density, guards must be assigned to ensure safety. In November 2014, the Vietnam Railway Department submitted to the Ministry of Transport a plan to modernize the north-south railway system by 2020 at a cost ranging from $8.9 billion to $10.2 billion, according to baodautu.vn, a news website under the Ministry of Planning and Investment. The railway connects the capital Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City in the south, with a total length of 1,726 km. Meanwhile, under the country’s railway development plan by 2020 with a vision toward 2050 that has been approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the railway sector is planning to build a new railway line for trains to run at up to 200kph – three times the current top speed – after 2020, and up to 350kph after 2050.
Pursuant to this plan, from now until 2020, the railway sector will upgrade the existing railway routes, with priority given to modernizing the north-south railway to increase speeds to 80-90kph for passenger trains and 50-60kph for cargo trains.
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