Hanoi’s first metro to operate commercially by year-end

By Doan Loan   July 11, 2020 | 02:00 am PT
Hanoi’s first metro to operate commercially by year-end
Trains of the Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line are ready for a commercial test run, October 28, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
The Chinese general contractor for Hanoi’s first metro said the acceptance review of the project is being accelerated to enable commercial operation by year-end.

China Railway Sixth Group Co Ltd, the general contractor of the 13km Cat Linh - Ha Dong metro project, has submitted all requested dossiers for the acceptance review of the project at the request Hanoi Metropolitan Railway Management Board (HRMB), Tang Hong, the Chinese director of the project, said Friday.

The quality inspection and evaluation of each construction item is well under way, and the HRMB has commented that the acceptance review is being "coordinated well by both parties", he said.

The project’s review is expected to fully complete within July, after which the general contractor will be paid in accordance to the terms of the contract. The project will pilot run for 20 days, during which the State Acceptance Council will be invited to evaluate it.

Once this is done, the Ministry of Transport will take over control of the project, and hand it over to the HRMB, Hong said.

Currently, the 31 experts of the Chinese general contractor have completed their compulsory Covid-19 isolation period, and has started their work on the project. Twelve of these personnel work daily with the HRMB on acceptance procedures, while the rest work on checking the operation of construction items at construction sites, he added.

"If the work goes according to plan, by the end of 2020, the project will be eligible for putting into operation," Tang Hong said, but added that the 20 day test run has not yet been scheduled, as the general contractor will need to receive the next payment in order to have funds to fly personnel from equipment suppliers to Vietnam.

"The HRMB is speeding up the approval and signature of documents, as well as the most important issue – the payment process," Hong said.

In early June, the Chinese general contractor had asked for $50 million in advance to test run the trains, which was refused by the Ministry of Transport on the grounds that all outstanding costs, which was 78 percent of the contracted amount, had been paid on schedule in accordance with the contract.

In addition to acceptance work, the project also needs to be assessed for technical safety by an independent organization, designated to French firm Apave-Certifer-Tricc (ATC).

However, ATC has begun their assessment a little behind schedule, and has requested some documents that the Chinese contractor cannot currently produce, so Hong has asked that conduction field experiments on some items that lack records take place before the 20 day pilot period.

The Cat Linh-Ha Dong Metro Section runs 13 kilometers from downtown Dong Da District to Yen Nghia in the southwestern Ha Dong District. It is one of eight lines planned in Hanoi.

Construction began in October 2011 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2013. But several hurdles, including loan disbursement issues with China that were only resolved in December 2017, stalled it for years.

Its cost has doubled to VND18 trillion ($776.77 million), with 77 percent of it coming from official development assistance (ODA) loans from China.

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