Vietnam to reconsider high-speed railway project in 3 years

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The government will consider submitting a high-speed railway project to the National Assembly again in three years, after it was rejected last year, a minister said last week.


According to the Minister of Transport Ho Nghia Dung, the ministry and Japan have signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct a feasibility study for the project, likely to be launched early this year.


The study will include establishing two sub-projects to build a route between Hanoi and Vinh Town in the central province of Nghe An, and another between Ho Chi Minh City and the central coastal town of Nha Trang, Dung told the press on the sidelines of a government conference in Hanoi on Thursday-Friday.


At the National Assembly's sitting last June, lawmakers voted out a US$56 billion project to build a 1,570-kilometer long high-speed railway linking Hanoi and HCMC, saying it was economically unsound, and that further studies on its feasibility were needed.


"Vietnam will definitely conduct the project, but when to do it needs to be calculated carefully," the minister said, adding that it depends much on the country's resources as well as its to-be partners' capacity.


Dung rejected the popular opinion of some experts, who want the current railway system to be upgraded instead of building new high-speed railaway routes, saying all systems will have to be suspended for a couple of years for works.


Not to mention that urbanization projects are already set up along the existing railway routes, so there's no land available to expand the system anymore, according to the minister.


"Whatever people say, I can guarantee that there's no way to clear the site [to upgrade railways]," he stressed.

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