The Transport Ministry has defended its proposal to spend US$58.7-billion on the North-South express railway project following the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s calculations that the cost would be less than half of this.
The Ministry of Transport has defended its proposal to spend USD58.7-billion on the North-South express railway project
The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) has filed a report to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on the railway project, expressing its approval for a lower-cost option instead of the Ministry of Transport (MoT)’s plan.
Citing analysis by experts from Germany and the Netherlands, the MPI said that with the span of thousands of kilometres, a running speed of 200km/h would be effective and help save some USD32 billion compared to the 350 kilometres recommended by the MoT.
According to MPI, travelling between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City would take about eight hours. The ultimate solution was to upgrade the old infrastructure for freight and simultaneously develop a new project to carry passengers.
Domestic firms should be prioritised to execute the project, instead of depending on foreign firms, the MPI added.
Following the MPI’s suggestions, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said that the ministry had taken careful consideration over the project through many seminars and seeking experts’ opinion.
“We have aimed to plan for a high-speed network for the long term. If we build a line with the speed of 200 kilometres per hour, in the future, we may have to replace it with a new one,” Dong explained.
Pham Huu Son, director of Transport Engineering Design Inc. under the MoT, said that the MPI’s estimate about the project’s investment capital of just USD26 billion was infeasible.
It would help to save just around 26% of the equipment cost for the 200km/h speed compared to 350 km/h, not more than half as calculated by MPI as much of the equipment would mean similar investment, Son pointed out.
Son said that the express railway project needs to transport a large number of passengers which the road and aviation sectors can’t.
So, the speed of 200 kilometres per hour would fail to compete with road and air transport.
Besides, trains of the project have the same technology as Japan’s bullet train. It would be counter-intuitive to use potentially outdated 200 kilometres per hour options.
Under MoT’s plan, two sections from Hanoi to the northern-central city of Vinh and from the southern central city of Nha Trang to HCM City was to be built first in 2020-2030 at a cost of USD24 billion, with commercial operations would likely to begin in 2032.
All sections were expected to be completed and operational by 2040-2045.
Contrary to earlier predictions, 26 Vietnamese investors have expressed interest in the north-south rail expressway project.
South Korea’s Hyundai Group wants to provide a comprehensive solution for the North-South express railway project, including planning, funding, construction, operation and maintenance.