Vietnam obliged to buy Chinese trains for Hanoi's urban railway: minister

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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 The design of Cat Linh - Ha Dong elevated railway in Hanoi. Photo credit: Transport Ministry's project management unit

Vietnam is obliged to buy 13 trains from China for Hanoi's first urban railway line under a bilateral financing agreement, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang said on Tuesday, responding to question about the rationale for the purchase.
The Cat Linh - Ha Dong project is implemented in accordance with an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) arrangement, meaning that Vietnam has to hire Chinese companies for the work and use Chinese equipment, he said.
"Chinese contractors are very bad. I wanted to replace them many times, but I could not because of the loan agreement's obligations," Thang said.
Last week the project's management board announced that it will buy the trains from Beijing Subway Rolling Stock Equipment Co., Ltd for over US$63.2 million in total.
The trains, which have four cars and can carry about 1,200 people each, are slated to arrive in Vietnam early next year for test runs. The trains are designed to travel at up to 80 kilometers per hour.
Work started on the 13.5-kilometer railway connecting the two districts Dong Da and Ha Dong in October 2011 with the initial cost estimate of $552 million in 2008. Nearly 80 percent of the project is funded by low-cost loans, often known as official development assistance, from China.
Construction was scheduled for completion late last year, but due to various reasons like delayed site clearance, the deadline was moved to the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the estimated cost has been adjusted to $886 million because of the delay. 
The project was once suspended in December for safety reasons, after several accidents took place around the construction site, leaving passers-by injured or dead.

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