Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Up to 131 weak bridges on the North-South railway will be repaired or replaced by 2021.
The project, which will receive VNĐ1.95 trillion (US$83.85 million) in investment from the State Budget, is set to rebuild 119 bridges and upgrade 12 others from 2018 to 2021.
According to the Railway Management Board, most bridges on the railway connecting Hà Nội and HCM City were built a century ago using French standards with low capacities.
Stone and concrete abutments have weathered over time.
Steel girders are cracked and covered in rust.
Meanwhile, the development of river transport has put pressure on weak railway bridges.
To ensure safety and minimise losses caused by collisions between waterway vehicles and railway bridges, there is an urgent need for repair or replacement.
Moreover, railway lines were severely destroyed in wartime. Although bridges have been repaired, their capacities are still limited, reducing the railway’s competitiveness compared to other means of transport.
“The project aims to increase bridges’ capacity to 4.2 tonnes per metre, ensure safety and increase average speed. It will help to lift a 25-carriage train’s average transport capacity up to 140 tonnes, utilise pulling power of modern locomotives and enhance effectiveness of the investment,” the board announced.
According to Vũ Anh Minh, head of Vietnam Railway’s Members’ Council, investment into railway improvement remains low, meeting only 1 per cent of demand.
At present, VNĐ6 trillion ($258 million) is needed to upgrade railway infrastructure; however, only 30 per cent has been funded.
“With that 30 per cent, we have to choose facilities that need urgent repair. Meanwhile, other constructions have become degraded, posing threats to railway safety,” said Minh.
“To increase the average speed by 10 per cent, VNĐ10 trillion ($430 million) is needed to upgrade the whole North-South railway system. By reducing traveling time from 11 hours to 10 hours, the difference in economic value is not high while the cost is huge. Therefore, Vietnam Railway focuses more on increasing trains’ loading capacity,” he added.
There are more than 1,400 bridges with a total length of 36,332m on the North-South railway. Many of them have very low capacity of about 3.6 tonnes per metre, especially in parts between Đà Nẵng City and HCM City.
On March 20, 2016, the collapse of Ghềnh Bridge in Đồng Nai Province shut down the North-South railway, leaving enterprises dealing with soaring transport costs.
The collision between a barge and the bridge pillar destroyed Ghềnh Bridge and isolated Sài Gòn Station in HCM City and Sóng Thần Station in Đồng Nai Province from the national railway line.
The bridge was repaired and came into operation in July, 2016, three months after the incident. — VNS