Government sticks to express railway project
The government has reiterated its intention to press ahead with a controversial big-ticket project to build the country's first express railway linking the two biggest cities, Hanoi and HCM City.
"Vietnam cannot help having a second north-south (express) railway besides the existing one," minister of Transport Ho Nghia Dung told reporters in Hanoi after news reports said the project had resumed though the National Assembly disapproved of it two months ago. Dung said the project should start with the reservation of land for a dozen years later but when the government would forward the project to the legislature for approval remained unknown because it would take years to collect as sufficient data as needed. Local media has reported that the ministry was considering developing the first two sections of the cross-country railway, with one connecting Hanoi and Vinh and the other linking HCM City and Nha Trang, instead of the whole line worth around $S6 billion as originally proposed.
The government approved in principle a proposal on July 23 to allow the ministry and the Vietnam Railways Corporation to get technical assistance and grants from the Japanese government to conduct a feasibility study for the two sections and another for a rail line between Hanoi and Noi Bai International Airport. "This is a feasibility study and it will take three to four years to finish before it goes before the National Assembly," said the transport minister.
He stressed that the government had found it necessary to study the project to make clear the points questioned by National Assembly deputies during their meeting in Hanoi in June, including scale, time frame, efficiency and financial viability.
The Saigon Times Weekly - September 15, 2010