Upgrading weak bridges will increase train speeds and capacities, making railways a quicker and more competitive mode of transportation. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Sơn
HCM CITY — The Ministry of Transport has approved a project to upgrade 133 bridges on the railway route between Hà Nội and HCM City at an estimated cost of VNĐ1.95 trillion (US$84 million).
The ministry's Railway Project Management Board has verified the feasibility study and drawn up plans to identify contractors for the work.
Procedures and approval for investment will be completed in October this year.
Among 133 bridges to be repaired, work to upgrade 25 bridges which have had their designs approved will start in January next year.
The ministry has approved funding of VNĐ40.3 billion ($1.74 million) to make preparations for the upgrades and for construction design and land clearance this year.
According to the ministry, the work is difficult and will take a long time to complete depending on train schedules. It has instructed relevant units to complete the project as quickly as possible.
The rest of the work is expected to start in April 2020 and be completed in 2021.
The North-South railway bridge upgrade project is among 14 urgent transportation projects approved by the National Assembly Standing Committee. The projects will use VNĐ15 trillion ($638.3 million) from State budget reserve for mid-term investment during the 2016-20 period.
There are currently 1,454 bridges in use for the Hà Nội-HCM City railway route, covering more than 36.3km.
Many bridges have a low capacity of 3.6 tonnes per metre, especially those on the stretch from Đà Nẵng to HCM City.
“The project aims to increase bridges’ capacity to 4.2 tonnes per metre, ensure safety and increase average speed,” a representative of the Railway Project Management Board told Vietnam News Agency. “It will help to lift a 25-carriage train’s average transport capacity to 140 tonnes, utilising the pulling power of modern locomotives.”
According to the Railway Project Management Board, most bridges on the railway connecting Hà Nội and HCM City were built at least 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.
Moreover, many railway lines were severely damaged during wartime. Although bridges have been repaired, their capacities are still limited, reducing the railway’s competitiveness compared to other means of transport.
To ensure safety, there is an urgent need for repair or replacement.
Failing to upgrade poor-quality bridges on the North-South route would pose risks to trains and passengers.
On March 20, 2016, Ghềnh Bridge in southern Đồng Nai Province collapsed, shutting down the North-South railway and leaving enterprises to deal with soaring transportation costs. — VNS