The Lào Cai-Hà Nội-Hải Phòng railway is due to be 392km long with 38 stations and can run both passenger and freight trains. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — China had funded 10 million yuan (US$1.4 million) for the preliminary planning of a controversial train project in Việt Nam that would connect the northern border region all the way through to a busy eastern port, the transport ministry announced on Monday.
The Ministry of Transport in its public statement said that the Lào Cai-Hà Nội-Hải Phòng train line was planned years ago in the Việt Nam Railway Development Strategy towards 2020, which was signed off by then Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng in 2008.
China in 2015 agreed to provide a non-refundable aid package worth 10 million yuan to help Việt Nam conduct surveys and map out the first blueprint for the line following high-level meetings between the two governments, according to the ministry.
China Railway Fifth Survey and Design Institute Group – the project consultant – just finished its preliminary planning for the line. The railway is due to be 392km long with 38 stations and can run both passenger and freight trains.
The transport ministry said it was working with localities that the train was set to run across to consult on the exact locations of the stations.
In the meantime, the project consultant was preparing for its final report before the project was to be submitted to the National Assembly, who would vote on whether the project could be carried out.
Key to transport network
The ministry first announced the VNĐ100 trillion ($4.2 billion) project last week which immediately sparked criticisms and doubts over the necessity and the practicality of such project, especially the Government’s ability to fund and deliver the project on time.
The concerns came from the fact that Việt Nam was already planning to build the North-South High Speed Railway – a trans-Việt Nam mega project estimated to cost more than $55 billion and deemed an enormous burden on the already strained national budget.
Meanwhile, a number of urban railway projects in Hà Nội and HCM City had their investment capitals shot through the roof and were seriously delayed for years.
The transport ministry, however, reaffirmed the need for the northern line on Monday, saying that the railway was “key to establish a transport network in the north of the Hồng River, connecting the northwest region to the delta and Hải Phòng seaport – one of biggest maritime centres in Việt Nam."
According to the project planning, the line is set to go east through eight provinces and cities, with the starting station in the border mountainous province of Lào Cai and runs towards Yên Bái, Phú Thọ, Vĩnh Phúc, Hà Nội, Hưng Yên and Hải Dương, before ending in Lạch Huyện Port in Hải Phòng.
Notably, there will be a 5.6km cross-border rail line connecting Lào Cai with China’s Hekou Railway in Yunnan Province.
The new railway is estimated to transport up to 10 million tonnes of cargo a year.
The railway will have the international standard track gauge of 1,435mm instead of the centuries-old gauge of 1m that was used in the existing Hà Nội-Lào Cai train line.
The old Hà Nội-Lào Cai line, meanwhile, will stop running after the new line is open, according to the ministry. VNS