Vietnam's transport minister rejects proposal for another slow-speed railway

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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A train on the current one-meter wide track connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Mai Vong A train on the current one-meter wide track connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Mai Vong

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Transport minister Dinh La Thang has rejected a Vietnam Railways proposal for the construction of an additional one-meter gauge railway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
In a letter to the state-owned railway company, Thang said the proposal failed to comply with the National Strategy on Railway Development until 2050 approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
“The Ministry of Transport is seeking the prime minister’s approval on detailed plans, including building a double-track broad gauge railway that would allow trains to travel between 160 and 200 km per hour,” he wrote.
On May 30, Vietnam Railways proposed the ministry build another one-meter track to solve the current overload.
It takes at least 30 years to build a high speed railway and thus, it needs another one-meter track to solve urgent demand, according to the company’s proposal.
On June 17, Thang told the media that the proposal is “neither new nor suitable.”
Thang said Vietnam Railways’ proposal was just wasteful like “building an additional [unnecessary] makeshift house while waiting for your nice new home.”
It takes at least 29 hours to travel by train between Hanoi and HCMC on its current train system.
A project to build an express railway sparked a heated debate before being dismissed by the National Assembly, Vietnam's parliament, in 2010 when the government announced an estimated price tag of $56 billion, half of the country's then gross domestic product.
Lawmakers and experts were concerned by the high cost and the project's effectiveness, as well as piling up debt for future generations.

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