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Construction of Saigon-Mekong Delta hi-speed rail expected to start next year

Monday, August 06, 2018, 14:54 GMT+7

The construction of a high-speed railroad connecting Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta hub of Can Tho is expected to be initiated next year, following multiple changes to the original plan.

The adjusted scheme will be submitted to the central government for approval within this year so that the construction can commence in 2019, according to sources close to the project.

The original plan, which was previously approved by the Ministry of Transport, highlighted that the Ho Chi Minh City-Can Tho high-speed rail would stretch over 173.6 kilometers with a total of 14 stations.

Aside from the two cities, the route also passes Binh Duong, which borders Ho Chi Minh City, and three Mekong Delta provinces - Long An, Tien Giang, and Vinh Long.

However, Prof. Tran Cong Hoang Quoc Trang, head of the Phuong Nam Science and Technology Institute (PNSTI), which is responsible for the project’s feasibility study, believed it would be difficult to implement the project as the railroad runs through multiple residential areas in Tien Giang.

This means site clearance and compensation will be a major challenge, Trang elaborated.

A consulting unit has announced the modified plan for the project during a recent meeting with Tien Giang authorities.

According to the consultant, the railroad should be only 139 kilometers long, and the section passing Tien Giang should be located adjacent to an existing expressway that links Ho Chi Minh City and the province, instead of passing local residential areas.

This will minimize the areas needed for site clearance and ensure traffic safety, Prof. Trang assessed.

As the construction is carried out under the PPP (public-private partnership) scheme, local authorities will need to transfer some 1,000 hectares of land for the project developer to conduct their own projects, he added.

The Tien Giang administration said they agree to the change to the route of the high-speed rail and are willing to allocate local land plots to the project developer as required in the PPP deal.

Trang revealed in March that Canada’s MorFund Financial Inc. will invest 6.3 billion Canadian dollars (US$5 billion) in the project, whereas the Canadian Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City has also pledged to provide professional and technical support for its development.

Construction of the high-speed rail is anticipated to shorten travel time between Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho to roughly 45 minutes.

It currently takes about three and a half hours to travel between the two localities by car or bus.

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Duy Khang / Tuoi Tre News

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