Alternatives suggested for north-south road, railway

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Management experts have proposed a route connecting Laos, Cambodia, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to ease the traffic on national highways.

At a conference held by the HCMC Association of Consultants in Science Technology and Management (HASCON) on Saturday, former airline and military pilot Mai Trong Tuan suggested to build a road and parallel railway line across Indochina.

Tuan said that buses playing the HCMC-Hanoi route on National Highway 1A and Ho Chi Minh Road, each 1,700-1,800 kilometers, only average about 50 kilometers per hour despite major road upgradations and repairs. It still takes two days and nights to travel between the two major cities.

Meanwhile the proposed Indochina road will be 1,410 kilometers long, running across flat areas of Vietnam and 910 kilometers of Laos and Cambodia.

It will be extended from existing roads which mostly run across sparsely populated regions.

The plan said the new road will be constructed on high, flat ground, so it will be more convenient than National Highway 1A or Ho Chi Minh Road during the monsoons , which are vulnerable to landslides.

Tuan estimated vehicles on the new road will be able to travel at 80-120 kilometers per hour, and the commute time between Hanoi and HCMC will be reduced by 60 percent to 16-18 hours.

The current meter gauge north-south railway, Thong Nhat, can only travel at 60 kilometers per hour at most, he said.

Tuan suggested that the parallel railway be 1.435 meters wide to allow trains to travel faster, between 100 and 200 kilometers per hour, and reduce the time to travel between HCMC and Hanoi to 10 hours, one-third of the time taken by express trains at the moment.

Le Ba Khanh, infrastructure expert at HCMC University of Polytechnics, said it is necessary to discuss alternative routes for Vietnam's roads and railways.

Khanh said the National Highway 1A and Thong Nhat Railway are usually damaged in heavy rains or floods, and the coastal routes will face severe flooding due to the rise of sea water.

The Indochina route can be considered a solution to the problems of Vietnam's north-south transport, he said during the conference.

Yet the expert said the plan should deal with real market demand to make the investment practical.

Khanh said most people would choose air travel if the distance is more than 1,000 kilometers.

Engineer Vu Duc Thang, vice chairman of HASCON, said Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have been thinking about joint railways to connect Hanoi, Hue, HCMC and Vientiane, and another one to connect Da Nang, Vientiane and Phnom Penh.

The network can be extended to more destinations including China, Thailand and Myanmar, Thang said.

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