Ho Chi Minh City requests railway link to new airport

By Dinh Phu, Thanh Nien News

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A corner of Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach A corner of Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach

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Ho Chi Minh City authorities have asked lawmakers to build a rail link to the planned Long Thanh International Airport in neighboring Dong Nai Province and scrap plans to expand Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
The city initially planned to link the airport and the city solely through the Ho Chi Minh City - Long Thanh Expressway, which they expect will be overloaded when it opens in 2023.
To prevent such an outcome, the city should immediately begin work on a light railway to ease the burden on the expressway, according to a proposal the HCMC People’s Committee submitted to to the National Assembly's Economic Committee this week.
The city government also called for an end to a costly plan to expand Tan Son Nhat because the airport, used for both civil and military purposes, is located on 1,500 hectares (3,706 acres) of the densely populated city center.
Tan Son Nhat currently serves about 20 million passengers a year -- a number that's expected to reach maximum capacity of 25 million by 2016.
City legislators noted that the planned expansion would swallow 641 hectares (and an estimated 140,000 households) north of the of the airport -- a feat that would more or less cost US$9.15 billion, depending on the price of land.
If it proceeds, the administration argues, the expansion project will bring severe gridlock, noise and air pollution to the area along with cumbersome limitations on building height.
The HCMC People’s Committee also recommended that work on the Long Thanh Airport be expedited to alleviate traffic at Tan Son Nhat, which could be overloaded as early as 2016-2017 -- an outcome that would severely hamper the region's socio-economic growth. 

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