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Ministry wants to restart railway project

Update: March, 21/2018 - 09:00
The Ministry of Transport wants to secure investment from the private sector to complete the Yên Viên – Cái Lân Railway project, which connects Yên Viên Station in Hà Nội with Cái Lân Station in the northern province of Quảng Ninh.— Photo sggp.org.vn

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Transport wants to secure investment from the private sector to complete the Yên Viên – Cái Lân Railway project, which connects Yên Viên Station in Hà Nội with Cái Lân Station in the northern province of Quảng Ninh.

The project, which began in 2004 with an initial investment of VNĐ7.7 trillion (US$3.39 billion) from the State budget, was cancelled in 2011 because of a funding shortage.

The railway was designed to shorten the train route between Hà Nội and Quảng Ninh Province by 37 km from the current 168 km, reducing the travel time to 1.5 to two hours for passenger trains and to three to four hours for cargo trains.

The 131-km railway consisted of four parts: Hạ Long – Cái Lân, Lim –Phả Lại, Phả Lại – Hạ Long and Yên Viên-Lim. Officials planned to complete it by 2010.

However, according to the ministry, the project was delayed and suspended in 2011 when Government tightened its belt, cutting public investment.

Currently, only 5.67 km of the track from Hạ Long to Cái Lân Port has been completed, with investment of VNĐ1.51 trillion ($66.3 million) while the other three parts were each half finished.

As of today, VNĐ4.536 trillion (US$199.2 million) from the State budget has been poured into the project.

However, according to the ministry, the project needs about VNĐ5.3 trillion to be completed by 2020.

The ministry’s Railway Project Management Board, the project investor, has proposed the Government call on private investors to complete the project under a Public-Private Partnership contract.

Cái Lân Station already has seven lines, as well as a warehouse and container area. It has not been used since 2014, station chief Nguyễn Đức Tân told Giao Thông (Transport) newspaper. That year, fuel prices rose, reducing the competitiveness of rail compared to faster options like buses.

The station management team had been conducting routine maintenance of the tracks and the station infrastructure to minimise the degradation of facilities, Tân said.

Similarly, Hạ Long Station in the province is serving only one train per day, with very few passengers.

Prior to 2014, the route between Cái Lân and Hạ Long stations served dozens of trains transporting steel, but the lack of connectivity with other stations and incomplete infrastructure lengthened travel time and increased the related costs, which were already steeper due to the fuel price hike.

In March this year, during a meeting with the transport ministry, authorities from Quang Ninh Province suggested restarting the railway project to fully exploit the potential of rail transportation in the province and to attract freight transport to Quảng Ninh seaport.

The potential of this seaport has also not been exploited in the past few years, partly because of the incomplete rail route. Meanwhile, seaports in the neighbouring city of Hải Phòng are over-burdened. — VNS

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