|Part of 1 metre wide track in the railway station in central Thanh Hoa Province. The proposal of buiding another track with the same size to meet increasing demand has been rejected. — VNS Photo Doan Tung
HA NOI (VNS) — Transport Minister Dinh La Thang told local media earlier this week that he did not think a proposal submitted by the Viet Nam Railway Corporation for a separate narrow-gauged railway line from Ha Noi to HCM City was reasonable.
Last month, the corporation asked the ministry to build another North-South 1m-wide track running parallel with the current line to meet increasing demand for railway transport.
Tran Ngoc Thanh, chairman of the Viet Nam Railways Corporation, said the current track would be used for the next 36 years until the North-South high-speed railway was completed in 2050.
In the meantime, transport demand has surged, with road transport expanding faster than infrastructure has developed.
Thanh said another track would help accommodate more than 100 trains per day, four times higher than the current limit.
Currently, railway transport accounts for only 0.5 per cent of the total passenger transport market and 1 per cent of total freight transport.
Minister Thang said that building another 1m-wide track besides the existing one was like building a small extension on your house while you try and save money to buy a bigger one.
"It doesn't sound right," he said.
National Assembly deputy Tran Du Lich said that it would be difficult to modernize the railway sector with narrow-gauged tracks.
"The low capacity of the railway network puts pressure on other means of transportation including road and air," he said.
Urban railway project
In a separate development, Chairman of Ha Noi's People's Committee Nguyen The Thao urged the construction of the Nhon – Ha Noi urban railway line to remain on track during his third visit to inspect progress at the site on Wednesday.
The work consists of nine construction projects and started in September, 2010, but some of them are up to eight months behind schedule.
Thao said that incompetent constructors or those who intentionally delayed the work would be replaced.
Thao criticized three constructors for delays.
The project's management board has asked the municipal People's Committee to disburse over VND203 billion (US$9.57 million) this year.
About VND107 billion ($5.04 million) would be used for land clearance and compensation.
However, so far the management board has only received VND30 billion ($1.4 million).
The total investment for the 12.5km Nhon – Ha Noi Railway Station urban railway project is projected at $1.6 billion, and it is expected to open in 2018. — VNS