Hanoi's historic Long Bien Bridge slowly becoming history

By Ngoc Thanh, Vo Hai   April 4, 2021 | 04:00 am GMT-8
Despite preservation efforts and regular maintenance, Hanoi is losing the iconic French-built Long Bien Bridge that’s been in use for almost 120 years.
The bridge across the Red River was designed and built by French firm Daydé-Pillié in September, 1898. It opened to traffic in 1902, running more than 1,691 meters long, with a rail track in the middle and road transportation on either side.

The bridge across the Red River was designed and built by French firm Daydé-Pillié in September, 1898. It opened to traffic in 1902, running more than 1,691 meters long, with a rail track in the middle and road transportation on either side.

During the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the bridge had some of its parts damaged and even destroyed by enemy bombing. The Vietnamese government fixed the damage, building the spans that are in use until today.

During the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the bridge had some of its parts damaged and even destroyed by enemy bombing. The Vietnamese government fixed the damage, building the spans that are in use until today.

Workers of Hanoi-based Ha Hai Railways Co. maintain a section of the bridge a few days ago.  The company was assigned the task of managing, operating and preserving the bridge by the Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR) in 1986. The firm’s deputy director, Ta Quang Son, said that each year, maintenance work is done four times, including removing rusted parts and repainting them, replacing rusty and loose sleepers and screws, and cleaning the bridge.

Workers of Hanoi-based Ha Hai Railways Co. maintain a section of the bridge a few days ago. The company was assigned the task of managing, operating and preserving the bridge by the Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR) in 1986.
The firm’s deputy director, Ta Quang Son, said that each year, maintenance work is done four times, including removing rusted parts and repainting them, replacing rusty and loose sleepers and screws, and cleaning the bridge.

Despite the regular maintenance, however, the bridge carries worsening signs of wear and tear. In the 1995-2010 period, VNR spent VND116 billion ($5 million) repairing the bridge. In 2015, the government allocated VND300 billion from the state budget for a large-scale preservation project for the bridge.

Despite the regular maintenance, however, the bridge carries worsening signs of wear and tear.
In the 1995-2010 period, VNR spent VND116 billion ($5 million) repairing the bridge. In 2015, the government allocated VND300 billion from the state budget for a large-scale preservation project for the bridge.

A new wooden sleeper was put into use in March this year to replace an old one.

A new wooden sleeper was put into use in March this year to replace an old one.

The road surface on the bridge is damaged in several sections. Ha Hai Railways said fixing the roads was part of the company’s maintenance plan for the first quarter; and work on it has basically been completed.

The road surface on the bridge is damaged in several sections.
Ha Hai Railways said fixing the roads was part of the company’s maintenance plan for the first quarter; and work on it has basically been completed.

A rusted parapet section is welded. Some workers said the maintenance work is only for the brige to hold up for a while.

A rusted parapet section is welded.
Some workers said the maintenance work is only for the bridge to "hold up" for a while.

Railway employee Nguyen Manh Thang, 51, patrols the bridge every day. I have to check every detail from the track to screws and sleepers and report to higher authorities. The bridge is really old now, so it has to be inspected regularly.

Railway employee Nguyen Manh Thang, 51, patrols the bridge every day.
"I have to check every detail from the track to screws and sleepers and report to higher authorities. The bridge is really old now, so it has to be inspected regularly.

A signboard calls on vehicles to limit use of the bridge. However, due to urban developments along the banks of the Red River, thousands of motorbikes and bicycles cross the bridge during peak hours every day.

A signboard calls on vehicles to limit use of the bridge.
However, due to urban developments along the banks of the Red River, thousands of motorbikes and bicycles cross the bridge during peak hours every day.

Trains use the bridge around 20 times per day.    Under a 15-year (2016-2030 with vision until 2050) transportation plan approved for the capital city, five railway bridges were to be built across the Red River. The plan remains on paper to date.

Trains use the bridge around 20 times per day.
Under a 15-year (2016-2030 with vision until 2050) transportation plan approved for the capital city, five railway bridges were to be built across the Red River. The plan remains on paper to date.

 
 
go to top