Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng (centre), accompanied by transport minister Nguyễn Văn Thể and Hà Nội People's Committee Chairman Nguyễn Văn Chung, inspects the long-delayed Cát Linh-Hà Đông urban railway project on Tuesday. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hùng
HÀ NỘI Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng on Tuesday demanded the long-delayed Cát Linh-Hà Đông urban railway line begin operation this year.
The deputy PM on Tuesday morning dropped by the construction sites of three key infrastructure projects of Hà Nội including the Mai Dịch-Thăng Long Bridge section on the city’s Belt Road No 3 and urban railway lines No 2A Cát Linh-Hà Đông and No 3 Nhổn-Hà Nội Train Station.
Dũng also experienced Việt Nam’s first elevated train by taking a 10km-long return journey from the first station of Cát Linh to the last stop of Văn Quán and vice versa.
“I want the Ministry of Transport and the railway’s general contractor to hasten work in order to start operating the project as soon as possible in 2019,” he told transport minister Nguyễn Văn Thể, who accompanied him on the visit.
“The top priority is to secure safety during operation. Chairman of the Hà Nội People’s Committee and transport minister have to sit down with the consultant agency to work out all issues to soon get the safety certificate before running the train,” the Deputy PM added.
‘No more excuses’
Tang Hong, representative of the project’s general contractor China Railway No 6 Group Ltd Co, said the contractor had provided all required papers to the independent consultant agency and was awaiting its final decision on the project’s safety.
Tang said the project was stuck in the safety evaluation stage because the consultant agency did not partake in the project from the beginning but from 2016 onwards when most of the construction was already completed.
He told the Deputy PM he also wanted to start running the train as quickly as possible as “the delay really tainted our image” following a complaint by Dũng saying Việt Nam had “already waited too patiently” for the project.
Dũng, in his response, said “If you want it, then do it. No more excuses!”
Construction on the VNĐ18 trillion (US$782.6 million) Cát Linh-Hà Đông urban railway started in 2008 and was initially expected to be completed in 2013. The construction deadline was later set at 2018 with trial runs to be ended by March 31 this year.
Six months after the trial period, however, an exact date on when Hanoians can finally board the train remains up in the air.
Municipal People’s Committee chairman Nguyễn Đức Chung said Hà Nội had already begun paying China the interest of the loans to build the railway in 2018, with an average of VNĐ300 billion ($13 million) a year.
The city also recruited nearly 1,000 workers who were trained to operate the trains, but the long delay left them with no work for almost two years, Chung said.
“Some have quit despite having finished the training. I urge the project start running soon and be handed to Hà Nội for operation,” he added. VNS