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Vietnamese expert opposes relocation of Saigon train station after bridge collapse

Friday, March 25, 2016, 17:51 GMT+7
Vietnamese expert opposes relocation of Saigon train station after bridge collapse
Heavy traffic at a level crossing on Tran Van Dang Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

The collapse of a railway bridge in southern Vietnam has led to growing public support for the relocation of a railway station in Ho Chi Minh City, while an expert argued against the idea.

After the Ghenh Bridge fell apart due to a barge collision in Dong Nai Province on March 20, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper carried out a survey on the optimal solutions to the halt of railway operations brought about by the incident.

Since the collapse, trains have been unable to cross the Dong Nai River, forcing all passengers to continue their journey by bus.

A total of 9,272 readers participated in the survey, which ran until Thursday afternoon, and 54.3 percent of those surveyed agreed that the Saigon Railway Station in the southern city should be moved to Bien Hoa City in Dong Nai, which is on the other side of the river.

Huong, one of the participants who supported the relocation, said that the train station should be moved out of Ho Chi Minh City to alleviate traffic congestion caused by railway crossings on many of the city’s streets.

In opposition to the idea is Ha Ngoc Truong, a standing member of the Union of Science and Technology Associations of Ho Chi Minh City, who suggested that the railway station not to be relocated.

The station is part of the Ministry of Transport’s plan to connect the railway system with the heart of the southern metropolis, which was approved by the prime minister in 2013, Truong told Tuoi Tre.

If the train station is moved to Bien Hoa, all train passengers who want to come to Ho Chi Minh City will have to travel by bus.

About 30 coaches will have to be mobilized to carry approximately 1,000 train passengers in and out of the city, increasing the usual number of buses tenfold and thus creating congestion at entrances to the city and several other traffic hotspots, the expert explained.

In addition, a train route to the city center is most convenient for workers from neighboring provinces who commute to Ho Chi Minh City for work on a daily basis, he added.

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Ha Ngoc Truong, a standing member of the Union of Science and Technology Associations of Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre  

In response to the fact that railway operation is a contributing factor to the city’s traffic jams, Truong stated that amid the rising number of vehicles, the current railway network should undergo major changes.

“We have proposed that all train tracks in the city be elevated in order not to interfere with road traffic while easing congestion,” Truong said.

In such a scenario, the railway hub in Ho Chi Minh City will remain a destination in national train journeys while not affecting traffic on the city’s streets.

According to Truong, one of the obstacles that have been preventing the plan from being executed is the lack of investment, as the project will need a capital input of US$200 million, with land compensation expense excluded.

He recommended that the investment be mobilized from private organizations, creating opportunities for different economic sectors to participate.

“In my recent document submitted to the municipal Party Committee, I have urged the city’s authorities to work with the Ministry of Transport to invest in elevating the city’s train ways in an effort to reduce traffic jams and accidents for the 2016-20 period,” Truong said.

The expert added that the upgraded railway system should be connected with bus, taxi, and metro routes to maximize convenience for travelers.

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