Ho Chi Minh City plans $3.6 billion rail connection with Mekong Delta

By Huu Cong   July 2, 2017 | 02:32 pm GMT+7

The country is trying to revive the romance and appeal of its long neglected rail network.

Ho Chi Minh City is planning to build a rail link to Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta at an estimated cost of $3.6 billion.

This week, the city’s chairman instructed the transport department to work with the provinces of Long An, Tien Giang, Dong Thap and Vinh Long, which will also be connected by the line, to file a proposal to the transport ministry.

Leaders from the region agreed at a recent meeting that a railway line between the two major southern cities, currently only connected by road and air, is necessary for economic development in the region.

The track is expected to span 134 kilometers, and run at speeds of around 200kph.

Vietnam's government has been reviewing the country's railway network, which was developed by the French in 1881, but has been largely neglected.

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An archive photo shows passengers on a Saigon-My Tho train in the 19th century.

Last month, the government passed amendments to the Railway Law, promising incentives for investors willing to resuscitate rail transport.

One of the revisions is to raise infrastructure investment in the sector. Only 3 percent of state budget transport spending went on railways between 2011 and 2015, while roads received nearly 90 percent.

The railway’s share of the transport network has shrunk from 30 percent in the 1930s to less than 2 percent today, according to official data.

Ho Chi Minh City has already taken steps to revive the romance of rail, launching a five-star service with a restaurant car to the coastal resort town of Nha Trang.