High-speed trains proposed to link Hanoi, HCMC with central region

By Doan Loan   March 19, 2021 | 07:18 pm PT
High-speed trains proposed to link Hanoi, HCMC with central region
Passengers on a train operating on the north-south railway, March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Two high-speed railroad routes between Hanoi and Vinh and HCMC and Nha Trang are expected to be operational by 2030.

They will have trains traveling at 350 kph.

They are in draft plans for 2021-30, according to the Ministry of Transport.

Vinh is the capital of the north-central Nghe An Province and Nha Trang is a beach town in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa.

If demand is still low, the two routes could have their start pushed back to 2032, according to the plan.

Together to run 651 km (404 miles), they will cost a total of VND561.6 trillion ($24.3 billion) to build and put into operation

Once they are up and running, work will start on other routes to complete the North-South or trans-Vietnam high-speed railroad.

Rail projects are expected to require funding of more thanVND665 trillion ($28.82 billion) by 2030 including for renovating existing routes.

The ministry in 2018 revived the North-South high-speed route after it was rejected by the National Assembly in 2010 due to its astronomical $56-billion price tag, then half of Vietnam’s GDP.

Experts have now again expressed concern about raising such huge sums of money.

The ministry proposed a 1,600-km 320-kph route at a cost of $58.7 billion.

La Ngoc Khue, a former deputy transport minister, rejected the proposal for 350 kph trains saying that would entail huge costs since Vietnam would need to import equipment and engineers.

He suggested a top speed of 140 kph instead to ensure economic and technical feasibility.

Dang Huy Dong, head of the Planning and Development Institute, said high-speed rail fares should be lower than airfares to be competitive.

Trains running at150 kph or 100 kph would be more efficient, and avoid the need for the government to underwrite investors’ losses.

Vietnam has over 3,000 km of track, none of it high speed.

Last year trains carried eight million passengers, down 6.9 percent from 2019 as the Covid-19 pandemic and flooding in the central region hit travel.

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