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Vietnam Plans to Build Standard-Gauge Track Linking Northern Provinces With China
The proposed railway will ship goods at least 40 kilometers per hour faster.
Old-school train tracks, while charming, have long been a hindrance to development in Vietnam. But in northern provinces along the Chinese border, that antiquity might soon change. Officials from both countries have recently announced plans to build a faster train line that they hope will remove significant trade handicaps between the two countries.
Currently, cargo from Vietnamese train lines, which are built on an older 1,000 mm gauge, can’t be transported to inland China, where tracks conform to the global 1,435 mm standard. The incongruence in track size has forced shipping companies to offload products at the border in order to later shift to the 1,435 mm tracks if they want goods transported deeper into China.
The result has been high inefficiency in bilateral imports and exports, explained Deputy Director of Vietnam Railways Phan Quoc Anh, who described the situation to Vietnam News. “That consequently increased the costs and thus the price for customers,” he explained.
Nguyen Ngoc Dong, Vietnam’s Transport Deputy Minister, suggested that the proposed train lines could re-shape trade in the region.
“It will draw more Vietnamese exports to China, or they may be transported there before leaving for Central Asia or Europe and vice versa,” he said.
The new standard-gauge (1,435 mm) tracks will also allow trains on the proposed route to move faster. Freight trains will be able to run at 90 kilometers per hour, while passenger trains will run as fast as 160 kilometers per hour. For passenger trains, that’s more than three times the current speed of 50 kilometers per hours, although still well below the 250 kilometers per hour required for a “high-speed” designation.
The train line will connect cities in a chain of northern provinces, including Hai Phong, Lao Cai and Hanoi. It will run for 391 kilometers and will be developed alongside the older 1,000 mm tracks.
Neither a price nor a date for the project has yet to be confirmed, but according to DTI, a co-operation agreement between Hai Phuong and Yunnan province will be signed this May.