Lawmakers vote out express railway project

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The National Assembly on Saturday emphatically gave the thumbs down to the US$56-billion express railroad project after heated debates.

The proposed express railroad, running from Hanoi-HCM City, was able to garner just over 37 percent of votes of 427 legislators on Saturday, while nearly 7 percent abstained.

Nguyen Duc Kien, vice chairman of the National Assembly, said the government will have to make prepare better and resubmit the plan at the next parliamentary session to be held later this year.

The project envisions shortening travel time on the 1,570-kilometer route to six hours from the current 29 hours, with the first phrase completed in 2020 and the second 15 years later.

However, at several National Assembly meetings, many legislators expressed serious concerns over the project's budget and its efficiency.

Also at the Saturday session, lawmakers passed the government's proposal that only projects worth VND35 trillion (US$1.8 billion) or above that include VND11 trillion ($580 million) or above in state budget funds will have to be approved by the National Assembly.

Projects with possible national security or environmental damage implications will also need prior approval from the National Assembly.

Under current regulations, the National Assembly is in charge of approving projects with a total investment of VND20 trillion ($1.05 billion) or above.

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