More information on the North-South High Speed Railway
On October 9, in Hanoi, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) organized the Forum "North-South High Speed Railway – Rising issues", to gather comments on the high speed railway.
Dr.Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai – Vice President of VUSTA
In his opening remarks, Dr.Sc. Nghiem Vu Khai - Vice President of VUSTA, Member of the 14 thNational Assembly reviewed the history of development of the Vietnamese railway industry as well as the process of submission of the high-speed railway project.
Dr.Sc. Khai recalled a special event that the National Assembly did not pass a draft resolution on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh high-speed railway project on 19 June 2010.
"This is the only draft resolution that has not been passed in the history of the National Assembly since 1946", he said and remembered this event very well because he was the one who read the draft resolution.
He also noted that at the meeting session of that year, the National Assembly took two projects into consideration: the general planning scheme for construction of the capital with total investment capital of USD 90 billion and the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh high-speed railway project with total investment capital of USD 56 billion.
"If combined, the amount to be spent for two projects is up to USD 146 billion, while the GDP in 2010 of Vietnam was only USD 115 billion. We did not have enough money to cover such two projects. The concern shows the responsibility of the National Assembly deputies.
It is not the time to build the high-speed railway because our public debt is quite high, we must pay careful attention to such investment", Dr. Nghiem Vu Khai emphasized.
Mr. Dao Ngoc Vinh, Deputy General Director of Transport Engineering Design Inc (TEDI)
Mr. Dao Ngoc Vinh, Deputy General Director of Transport Engineering Design Inc (TEDI – the leading member of the Consultant Joint-Venture for project preparation said that the pre-feasibility study report for the North-South high-speed railway project showed a proposal to build a new railway about 1,559 km in length, passing through 20 localities, linking Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The expected implementation time for the first phase was divided into two stages: Stage 1 from 2020-2030, building Hanoi-Vinh and Nha Trang-Ho Chi Minh City sections. Stage 2 from 2030-2040, building Vinh-Nha Trang section, in which the Vinh-Da Nang section would be completed in 2040, the Da Nang-Nha Trang section would be completed until 2045.
The train speed was 350 km/h, the operating speed was 320 km/h, which was designed to operate passenger trains.
"The project uses the technology of dispersed dynamics train; signal information system technology, control signal transmission technology via radio waves, road closure using mobile seperation ... Total investment capital of the whole route project is USD 58.71 billion, of which, about USD 24.71 billion for Stage 1 and USD 34 billion for Stage 2, said Mr. Dao Ngoc Vinh.
According to the Pre-Feasibility Study Report of the North-South High Speed Railway Project, the investment in this project was essential to meet the increasing transport demand in the future and at the same ensure the harmonious and sustainable development of transportation, urban restructuring and distribution of population and labor on the North-South corridor, promoting the competitiveness of the economy.
Dr. Dang Huy Dong – Former Deputy Minister of the Planning and Investment
Dr. Dang Huy Dong - Former Deputy Minister of the Planning and Investment said that the implementation of this project was necessary because the topography of Vietnam was characterized by stretching about 2,500km throughout from the North to the South. Moreover, there is an increasing demand for transporting passengers and goods.
The problem was that we did not know how to choose one out of two high-speed railway technologies (the first technology with an average speed 120 km/h, maximum 200 km/h, 1435mm gauge, both transporting passengers and goods and the second technology with a high-speed of over 300 km/h, the average speed of 200 km/h) in line with the needs and affordability of the economy.
Given the current socio-economic situation of Vietnam, Dr. Dang Huy Dong said that in order to implement this project, the State budget should be only used for site clearance and track construction and the private capital should be mobilized to implement two items of station and the train.
In the meantime, Dr. Vu Dinh Anh asked where we got the money after seeing 3 schemes of capital mobilization for the North-South high-speed railway project.
He added that "all 3 schemes has not been feasible and impractical because they are based on the GDP forecasts, the ability to allocate investment capital from the state budget, mobilize ODA capital, public debt limit and the ability to mobilize private investment capital”.
Notably, according to Dr. Vu Dinh Anh, the most important basis to consider the ability to mobilize capital for the Project was GDP growth rate. He said that it would be incorrect and impractical if the consultant based on the reports of WEF, WB, etc. from 2018.
Scene of the forum
Previously, in early 2019, the Ministry of Transport reported to the Prime Minister about the pre-feasibility study of the North-South high-speed railway project. The operating speed of 320km/h was designed to operate separately the passenger trains within 5 hours 20 minutes (if not stopping at some stations) and 6 hours 55 minutes if stopping at all stations. The project has a total investment capital of more than VND 1.3 million billion (USD 58.7 billion).
However, right after that, the Ministry of Planning and Investment submitted a proposal to build the North-South high-speed railway with a total investment capital of only USD 26 billion at a speed of 200km/h.