Japanese aid to renovate 10 Vietnam railroad bridges

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Vietnamese and Japanese companies inked a contract in Hanoi Tuesday to renovate rail bridges in central Vietnam with Japanese official development assistance loans.

The package, referred to as Construction Package 2, aims to improve 10 bridges from Thua Thien-Hue to Quang Nam provinces in the central region.

The projects are the first phase of the Hanoi â€" Ho Chi Minh City Railway Line Bridges Safety Improvement Project, which includes the renovation of 44 bridges from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city and the installation of 22 level crossings and 41 underpasses.

Japan has provided two ODA loans amounting 19,959 million yen (about US$226 million) for the initial package, which is expected to take 30 months.

Vietnam Railways and a joint venture between Tekken Corporation, Yokogawa Bridge Corporation, Thang Long Construction Corporation and Marubeni Corporation were signatories to the recent deal, agreeing that the package would be supervised by a consortium of Japanese consultants from Japan Bridge & Structure Institute, Inc., Oriental Consultants Co., Ltd. and Tonichi Engineering Consultants, Inc.

From 1994 to 1996, Japan provided three ODA loans totaling 11,437 million yen ($127 million) to provide emergency upgrades of 19 railway bridges between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The work was completed in December 2005, and has since reduced the rail travel time between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from 36 hours in 1994 to 29 hours in 2007. It has also helped triple the number of passenger trains running per day and has supported an increase in cargo volume.

The 1,700km Hanoi â€" Ho Chi Minh City railway line was built in 1935. Most of its infrastructure has since deteriorated due the damages of war and the lack of adequate maintenance.

Many bridges along the line are in bad shape even after their temporary restoration after the reunification of the country in 1975.

A speed limit of 40kph or less as well as weight limits are required at many bridges for safety reasons.

Reported by Huu Tho

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