Vietnam approves $51m upgrade between Vinh and Nha Trang
VIETNAM’s Ministry of Transport has approved a 1.2 trillion VND (US$51 million) renovation and upgrade project for the 996 km Vinh – Nha Trang line which is part of the Northeast Railway. south of the country.
The Railway Project Management Board, under the Ministry of Transport, was given the role of investor in the project to modernize bridges and stations along the route, which was built according to the metric gauge used in most of the country and which is a legacy of Vietnam’s French colonial past.
While capital for the project will be provided from the state budget under the medium-term public investment plan for 2021-25, the provinces and cities of Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa will manage the day-to-day project.
The project aims to improve the safety and quality of rail service, increase capacity and make the railway more attractive to passenger and freight customers by making better use of the rail infrastructure along the route.
There are several sections of line where the encroachment of urban populations leaves very little space between the trains and the temporary structures erected along the line, so part of the improvement plan involves compensation, site clearance and resettlement assistance at a cost of 27.6 billion Dong. This will be divided into sub-projects carried out by the provincial people’s committees of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Da Nang, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh.
The North-South Railway is currently the only railway linking Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. However, for a number of years, Vietnam Railways has been proposing the construction of a standard gauge high-speed railway line known as the North-South Express Railway. Although in 2010 the project was rejected as too expensive by the National Assembly of Vietnam (NAV), in recent years the Ministry of Transport has again conducted feasibility studies, suggesting that the whole project could be completed by 2050.
In November 2021, Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Mr. Pham Minh Chinh, approved the Railway Network Strategy 2021-2030 which, in addition to planning upgrades to seven of the country’s existing railway lines (some meter gauge, some standard gauge and some with double track sections), also proposed the construction of nine new lines across the country, seven of which are to be built at 1435 mm gauge and the other two at two meter gauge and at a spacing of 1435 mm.
The strategy also included giving priority to the north-south express railway, although there was some debate over the line’s maximum speed, with both 200 km/h and 350 km/h being offered.
The strategy called for rail to transport 11.8 million tonnes of freight per year by 2030, or 0.27% of the market, as well as 460 million passengers per year, or 4.4% of the market.