Wednesday, September 19 2018

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Hoàn Kiếm metro station still debated after 15 years

Update: August, 25/2018 - 09:00
A perspective photo of one of the C9 station’s exit gates on the walking path around Hoàn Kiếm Lake. — Photo courtesy of the Hà Nội Urban Railway Management Board
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI  It has been 15 long years since the debate over the location of a single metro station beside the historic Hoàn Kiếm (Returned Sword) Lake broke out, and the dispute seems unlikely to end soon.

The station in question is the underground station coded C9 on Hà Nội’s urban railway line No 2, connecting the outlying district of Bắc Từ Liêm and the city centre. When complete, the project will include the first metro trains running through the historic and tourist-favourite Old Quarter area.

Exactly where to locate the C9 station has become one of the projects’ major stumbling blocks. Many people have protested its proposed location on the walking path around the lake.

The National Assembly’s Committee for Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children recently expressed to the NA and Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc their disagreement with the location, saying that the station and the underground tunnel of the railway route might cause harm to the Hoàn Kiếm Lake historical site.

The committee feared that the daily construction and operation processes of the railway will create ground vibrations, threatening nearby centuries-old structures with foundations that are no longer solid.

The station, which is planned to be built adjacent to Ngọc Sơn and Bà Kiệu temples, “does not only violate the Law on Cultural Heritage but also harbours the risk of irreversible impacts to the heritage and the cultural space of the capital’s centre.”

Many experts also demanded a thorough impact assessment report over the station in question and the whole railway project given its potential threat to the most important historical and cultural area of the thousand-year-old city.

Hà Nội Urban Railway Management Board Chief Nguyễn Cao Minh defended the project, saying that both the station and the tunnel are not located within the most closely guarded heritage protection zone. According to the heritage law, areas designated heritage protection Zone No 1 closely surround historical structures and any construction is prohibited. Inside Zone No 2 –the secondary protection layer – facilities that help promote the cultural values of historical sites may be constructed. The proposed location of the C9 station is inside land designated Zone No 2.

The metro station, which is expected to bring throngs of passengers, many of them possibly tourists to Hoàn Kiếm Lake, should also be considered a facility that contributes values to the area, he said.

The tunnel will be built at least 12m underground, Minh said, and is expected to cause subsidence to some structures, for example the Tháp Bút (Pen Tower) in the area, though “at a very minimal amount, between 1-4mm”.

The board deputy chief Lê Trung Hiếu said that the station and the project still await the final words from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

“There were times when the ministry said yes but then wanted to reconsider after hearing opinions from the experts,” he said.

“The ministry is still looking into the proposal but the deadline for the final decision to come out is still unknown.”

The urban railway project No 2 has been on the table for discussion for up to 15 years. The C9 station has had its location adjusted more than 10 times.

Urban transport expert Nguyễn Đình Chiển said that there was no better option for the location of the C9 station and the tunnel route in the Hoàn Kiếm Lake area.

The location of the C9 station also directly involved the two adjacent stations of C8, due to built at Hàng Đậu Garden, and C10 on Hàng Bài Street, he said. Without determining C9’s venue, planning for C8, C10 and even the whole rail route would be on hold.

“In my opinion, the current proposed location is the most feasible, cost-effective and safe for the Hoàn Kiếm Lake historical complex,” Chiển said.

The Hà Nội urban railway No 2, mostly funded by Japan’s official development assistance, is planned to begin in 2020 and finish in 2024.

The 11.5km-long railway starts at the Ciputra residential complex in Nam Thăng Long District, running through the streets of Nguyễn Văn Huyên, Hoàng Quốc Việt, Hoàng Hoa Thám, Thụy Khuê, Phan Đình Phùng, Hàng Giấy, Hàng Đường, Hàng Ngang, Hàng Đào, Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Bài and ends at the Phố Huế-Nguyễn Du crossroad.

The controversial station C9 is currently planned to be located on Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street and will have four exits.  VNS

  

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