The Ministry of Transport is currently working on a feasibility study for an express railway across the country, said Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, which he hopes will be submitted for parliamentary approval by 2018.

The newly proposed high-speed railway follows a similar plan that was rejected six years ago by national lawmakers, who said the investment of $56 billion, equivalent to nearly half of Vietnam’s gross domestic product in 2010, was too big.

Vietnam has faced a critical lack of funding for its railway network. However, with the economy growing above 6 percent on average over the past 10 years, the government is feeling the urgent need to boost the transport system, including expanding the existing railway network.

Transport authorities hope the new plan will address lawmakers’ concerns. If approved, work will focus on upgrading the existing single-track main line between Hanoi and Vinh and from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang between 2020 and 2030.

The plan aims to increase speeds to 90kph for passenger services and 60kph for freight in the next four years.

At the same time, Vietnam is working on a long-term project to build a new north-south line from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. The railway is expected to allow speeds of 160-200kph by 2030, with a target of increasing speeds to more than 350kph after 2050.

The number of train passengers in 2015 was estimated at 11.2 million, the lowest level over the same period, from its peak of 12.2 million in 2011.

By An Hong - VnExpress.net - October 17, 2016