The Government will submit the controversial North-South high-speed railway project to the National Assembly (NA) in May next year.
|Passengers get on board a train. The North-South high-speed railway project will be submitted to the National Assembly in May next year|
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the State Appraisal Council will consider the big-ticket project for 90 days and must send it to the NA’s appraisal agency 60 days prior to the NA’s sitting, in line with the 2014 Public Investment Law, the local media reported.
Due to the project remaining controversial, the State Appraisal Council has hired foreign consulting firms to assess the project, thus prolonging the appraisal time.
During the evaluation process, the council will consider the documents of the project and the views of consulting firms, the relevant ministries and agencies, experts, scientists and the public to report the most feasible investment solutions to the Government and the NA.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Transport submitted the prefeasibility report for the project to the prime minister.
Accordingly, the 1.4-meter-wide express rail line connecting the country's two biggest cities, Hanoi in the north and HCMC in the south, will be 1,559 kilometers long. It would have a designed speed of 350 kilometers per hour (kph) and will be used to carry passengers only. The current North-South railway with a width of 1.0 meter will be upgraded to transport cargo.
Rail travel between Hanoi and HCMC will take five hours and 20 minutes, excluding stopovers at certain stations, and six hours and 55 minutes if stopovers at all stations are included.
The project requires an estimated investment of US$58.7 billion.
However, the Ministry of Planning and Investment has recently said the railway should have a designed train speed of 200kph for both cargo and passenger transport, and that its cost would be only US$26 billion.
On July 11, the Government set up a State council to look into the project, led by Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung.
Other members of the council include leaders from various ministries, such as transport, finance, construction, natural resources-environment and industry-trade; the heads of the State Bank of Vietnam and of the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises; and the leaders of some 20 localities that the railway is expected to pass through. SGT