High-speed rail should be built in sections: Japanese ambassador

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Vietnam should build the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City express railway section by section instead of the whole route at once, the Japanese ambassador in Vietnam told the press on Thursday.

A survey conducted by Japan International Cooperation Agency between 2007 and 2009 stressed that the rail line's potential passengers are those who travel short distances like from Hanoi to the central province of Thanh Hoa, Mitsuo Sakaba said.

Very few people will choose the railway to travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City or vice versa, because the trip will take some six hours compared to the two-hour flight, while the fees will be similar, he quoted a survey reported to the governments as saying.

The survey on Vietnam's transport system showed that the expressway will bring benefits between 2030-2035 when the central provinces and cities of Thanh Hoa, Vinh, Hue and Danang have developed to a greater extent.

During his trip to Vietnam this month, the Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Seiji Maehara said plans to put the railway into use by 2020 were probably premature because that would be too soon to exploit the railway to its full capacity given the country's current economic and social conditions.

Sakaba said the Japanese government was willing to cooperate with Vietnam to build the high-speed system.

At a National Assembly's meeting on May 20, many representatives expressed concerns over the budget and the efficiency of the US$56 billion railway.

Some wanted to delay the project, whose first phrase is scheduled for completion in 2020 and the second 15 years later.

Others suggested building it into shorter sections instead of a 1,570-kilometer route running from the capital to the southern city.

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