Vietnam demands that Hanoi's long-delayed sky train be officially launched in 2018

By Doan Loan   December 29, 2017 | 06:02 pm PT
Loan disbursement issues with China, which had been holding back the project, have finally been resolved.

Work on Hanoi's first elevated railway line running from Cat Linh to Ha Dong, to the north of the city, could finally plow ahead after loan disbursement issues with the Chinese government were resolved.

China's Eximbank on Thursday finally completed the necessary procedures to disburse $250 million for the Cat Linh-Ha Dong project, according to deputy transport minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong.

"The money has been received, the railway is completed, equipments are already on their way here so you can't say because of this, because of that. There is no more reason for further delays," Dong said at a meeting with the project's management board.

"We've told the Chinese side that the Cat Linh Railway Project has been through three generations of ministers, and they need to speed it up. The transport ministry is focusing on this project."

Stressing the need for the sky train to be launched in 2018, Dong instructed the project's management board to work closely with the Chinese contractor in installing the project's equipments such as the fire fighting, signaling and electronic systems. The board must not let the contractor do the works alone, and any problem that arises must be reported to the ministry immediately without delay.

10 out of the projects 13 imported train cars have arrived in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

10 out of the project's 13 imported train cars have arrived in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

According to the management board, 95 percent of the project's construction works have been completed. As the loan disbursement issues have been resolved, the board has urged the main contractor to finalize any remaining contracts and payments with the subcontractors. Additionally, the board has asked the main contractor to replace incompetent subcontractors that may affect the project's progress.

The main contractor, the state-owned China Railway Sixth Group Co., currently estimates that test runs could be carried out from early September 2018. After a 3-6 month testing phase, the sky train would be ready for official launch.

Work on the Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway, which will run over more than 13 kilometers (8 miles), started in October 2011 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2013. But several hurdles, including issues with the Chinese contractor, have been stalling the project for years.

The original cost estimate of $552.86 million has also ballooned to more than $868 million, including $670 million in loans from China.

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