Government mulls all-passenger role for proposed high-speed rail

By Pham Du   March 27, 2024 | 02:00 am PT
Government mulls all-passenger role for proposed high-speed rail
A high-speed train in Europe. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Duy
The Ministry of Transport wants the proposed 350 kph high-speed rail to be used for passenger transport, leaving the existing line to exclusively carry freight.

At a government meeting Tuesday where the proposal was discussed, Vuong Dinh Khanh, a former deputy general director of the Vietnam Railways Corporation, called for carefully considering things before earmarking the existing lines exclusively for freight trains.

The proposal has been discussed at a number of meetings in the past.

In November 2023 the transport ministry had invited opinions on the top speed for the proposed railroad. The Ministry of Planning and Investment had said: "There are no mixed passenger and freight railroad lines in the world with a design speed of 350 kph."

The Politburo, the Communist Party's decision-making body, wants construction to begin by 2030 and completed by 2045.

At the Tuesday meeting, former deputy transport minister La Ngoc Khue said the high-speed line must "connect with international railway lines" to reduce logistics costs of goods.

Inland waterways and maritime transport offer cost advantages, but are time-consuming and involve multiple loading and unloading, he pointed out.

So this is a significant opportunity to expand rail transport of freight, he added.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Danh Huy said the rail project is huge with complex technical standards, and passes through many localities, and so requires careful consideration.

Railroad projects bring significant economic benefits, but the financial efficiency of the project is not high. Therefore, he suggested that the government prioritize the state budget for the project.

Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha said a modern industrial country needs high-speed rail services to reduce logistics costs and enhance economic competitiveness.

He urged the transport ministry to review all the feedback and finalize investment plans for it.

The ministry has to learn from other countries' experience in operating high-speed rail networks that combine passenger and freight transport, he added.

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