Vietnam Railways chief found lying about role in plan to buy decades-old cars

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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A train in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Thang A train in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Thang

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The Ministry of Transport is considering punishment against the chairman of Vietnam Railways, after he was found lying about his involvement in a controversial plan to buy 164 old railroad cars from China.
In a statement published on Friday, the ministry said its inspectors discovered that chairman Tran Ngoc Thanh had signed paperwork permitting Hanoi Railway Transport Company to negotiate the deal with a Chinese partner. The old trains have been used in China for up to 20 years. 
After the plan was reported in local media early this month, public criticism began to accumulate, prompting the dismissal of Hanoi Railway's CEO Nguyen Viet Hiep. 
Amid all the controversy, Thanh denied claims that he had approved the plan.
The ministry said the plan, which was canceled immediately after media reports, was not in line with its policy to develop railway transport. 
Vietnam's transport authorities have made various attempts to upgrade the country's overused train system to give it a boost in the competition against the increasingly affordable air services.
The Hanoi railway company, for instance, last month unveiled two new trains on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City line, promising five-star services. The company claimed it invested around VND80 billion (US$3.53 million) in these new trains.

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