Vietnam plans new railway line for high-speed trains

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Current train speed of up to 70 kph makes railway a poor option for Vietnamese travelers. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency Current train speed of up to 70 kph makes railway a poor option for Vietnamese travelers. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency

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Vietnam is planning to build a new railway line that will allow trains to run at up to 200 kilometers per hour, three times the current maximum speed.
The new plan, approved last week by the prime minister, also includes modernizing current tracks for the north-south services.
This upgrading will help raise the speed to up to 90 kilometers an hour by 2020, before the new line can take that to 200 kph by 2030. 
As for this new line, transport agencies will build a double track of broad 1.435-meters gauge to replace the current one-meter-wide single track.
There will be further upgrades to ultimately raise train speed to 350 kph by 2050.
Cost estimates have not been revealed. 
Transport agencies are expected to start with routes of high demand such as between Hanoi and Vinh in central Vietnam and between Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang.
The national railway network will be expanded further to connect to major sea ports and industrial zones. 
With the new plan, Vietnam aims to make trains the provider of 5-8 percent of the cargo and passenger transport in the country. For Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, rail is set to account for at least 30 percent of passenger transport. 
Official statistics show that the railway share of cargo transportation has plunged from 27.9 percent in 1996 to 4.1 percent in 2011.
Its share in passenger transport also fell from 7.9 percent to 1.8 percent over the same period.

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