Vietnam revamps high-speed train project

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An ambitious but costly high-speed railways system connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and other major towns in Vietnam has been modified by the government, trying to cut initial costs of $56 billion to $21.4 billion.

The project, originally proposed in 2009 and conceptualised with the help of Japanese advisors, was rejected by the country’s National Assembly in 2010 due to its high costs but now can be developed “on a trial basis.”

Instead of building a 1,630 kilometer railway track between the countries major cities for trains capable of running at 250 to 300 km/h, the Japan International Cooperation Agency suggested to construct “feasible” routes first between Hanoi and Vinh (280 km) and Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang (360 km), that could be economically viable by 2030. Technology used on the Japanese Shinkansen high-speed railway has been suggested to be used for the Vietnam railway.

The investment for these routes would only be around $21.4 billion instead of the $56 billion calculated earlier for the full route. However, the costs for the revised high-speed track network still represent 6.3 per cent of Vietnam’s GDP.

Technical problems involve the fact that Vietnam is using small-rail gauges that have to be replaced for the high-speed train throughout the full length of the new network.

The Asian Development Bank has been supporting the project and said there was great potential for a rapid increase in rail freight within Vietnam and to China. A high-speed train between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh would also reduce the current travel time of 30 hours to 5 hours.

However, while Vietnam is spending large sums on improving infrastructure, the country’s transport minister Dinh La Thang recently told media that the construction of  a full high-speed train network is currently beyond the country’s competence and financing capability.

Proposed and suggested railway lines in Southeast Asia (click to enlarge)

Planned or proposed high-speed railways in ASEAN

Apart from Vietnam, other ASEAN countries are mulling over plans to introduce high-speed railways.

* Myanmar has published plans to build a high-speed railway between Yangon and Kunming in China over a distance of 1,920 kilometers with the help of Chinese investors. Plans are currently on hold.

* Indonesia has expressed interest in high-speed rail links for the densely-populated island of Java, probably linking the major cities of Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya. Estimated costs are $20 billion.

* Laos had plans to build a high-speed railway between Vientiane and China and link it to Chinese high-speed railways, as well as to a proposed high-speed railway to Bangkok. Plans have been put on hold.

* Thailand has plans for several high-speed rail lines radiating from Bangkok, connecting major cities such as Chiang Mai and Nong Khai. Total costs would reach $25 billion.

* Malaysia and Singapore have proposed a high-speed rail to link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore with a possible extension to Bangkok. The plans have been put on hold due to high costs but could be revived to implement such a rail link in stages.

* The Philippines has suggested a high-speed railway on the island of Luzon, passing through Manila, carried out by the San Miguel Corporation. The project is in its development stage.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

An ambitious but costly high-speed railways system connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and other major towns in Vietnam has been modified by the government, trying to cut initial costs of $56 billion to $21.4 billion.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

An ambitious but costly high-speed railways system connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and other major towns in Vietnam has been modified by the government, trying to cut initial costs of $56 billion to $21.4 billion.

The project, originally proposed in 2009 and conceptualised with the help of Japanese advisors, was rejected by the country’s National Assembly in 2010 due to its high costs but now can be developed “on a trial basis.”

Instead of building a 1,630 kilometer railway track between the countries major cities for trains capable of running at 250 to 300 km/h, the Japan International Cooperation Agency suggested to construct “feasible” routes first between Hanoi and Vinh (280 km) and Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang (360 km), that could be economically viable by 2030. Technology used on the Japanese Shinkansen high-speed railway has been suggested to be used for the Vietnam railway.

The investment for these routes would only be around $21.4 billion instead of the $56 billion calculated earlier for the full route. However, the costs for the revised high-speed track network still represent 6.3 per cent of Vietnam’s GDP.

Technical problems involve the fact that Vietnam is using small-rail gauges that have to be replaced for the high-speed train throughout the full length of the new network.

The Asian Development Bank has been supporting the project and said there was great potential for a rapid increase in rail freight within Vietnam and to China. A high-speed train between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh would also reduce the current travel time of 30 hours to 5 hours.

However, while Vietnam is spending large sums on improving infrastructure, the country’s transport minister Dinh La Thang recently told media that the construction of  a full high-speed train network is currently beyond the country’s competence and financing capability.

Proposed and suggested railway lines in Southeast Asia (click to enlarge)

Planned or proposed high-speed railways in ASEAN

Apart from Vietnam, other ASEAN countries are mulling over plans to introduce high-speed railways.

* Myanmar has published plans to build a high-speed railway between Yangon and Kunming in China over a distance of 1,920 kilometers with the help of Chinese investors. Plans are currently on hold.

* Indonesia has expressed interest in high-speed rail links for the densely-populated island of Java, probably linking the major cities of Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya. Estimated costs are $20 billion.

* Laos had plans to build a high-speed railway between Vientiane and China and link it to Chinese high-speed railways, as well as to a proposed high-speed railway to Bangkok. Plans have been put on hold.

* Thailand has plans for several high-speed rail lines radiating from Bangkok, connecting major cities such as Chiang Mai and Nong Khai. Total costs would reach $25 billion.

* Malaysia and Singapore have proposed a high-speed rail to link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore with a possible extension to Bangkok. The plans have been put on hold due to high costs but could be revived to implement such a rail link in stages.

* The Philippines has suggested a high-speed railway on the island of Luzon, passing through Manila, carried out by the San Miguel Corporation. The project is in its development stage.

 

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