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HCMC proposes adjusting HCMC-Can Tho express railway project
The Saigon Times Daily
Monday,  Sep 24, 2018,15:29 (GMT+7)

HCMC proposes adjusting HCMC-Can Tho express railway project

The Saigon Times Daily

The scheduled route of the HCMC-Can Tho high-speed railway project as proposed by the Ministry of Transport

HCMC - The HCMC government has proposed the Ministry of Transport adjust the HCMC-Can Tho high-speed railway project to reduce the route length to make the project more feasible, the local media reported.

According to the Ministry of Transport’s decision, issued on August 27, 2013, the railway was planned to be nearly 173,700 kilometers long with 14 stations, starting from An Binh station in Binh Duong Province and running through the urban areas of HCMC and four Mekong Delta provinces.

However, representatives of HCMC and four localities in the Mekong Delta region later agreed to the Southern Institute of Science and Technology’s proposal to reduce the route’s length to 139 kilometers, shortening the travel time between HCMC and Can Tho City to roughly 45 minutes. The railway would then run parallel with the HCMC-Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway.

The HCMC-Can Tho high-speed railway will stop at 10 stations, beginning at Tan Kien station in HCMC and running through stations in Long An, Tien Giang and Vinh Long provinces before ending at Cai Cui Port in Can Tho City.

According to the HCMC government, the adjustment will reduce the amount of cleared land needed for the project, and localities will be able to develop urban areas connected to the stations. In addition, the construction and equipment costs will be reduced by VND17 trillion (US$728.2 million).

Ha Ngoc Truong, head of the Metro-Railway Division of the HCMC University of Transport, said the consulting firm had suggested amending the project as the Ministry of Transport’s plan was unreasonable. The ministry had planned to develop the railway near residential areas, which would be unsafe for the local people.

Besides this, the express railway was expected to be operational for 100 years, but the Mekong Delta region is prone to flooding and is greatly affected by climate change.

Meanwhile, the consulting firm proposed developing 10 stations into new urban areas with industrial parks, houses, schools, hospitals and supermarkets that meet international standards. The adjustment will also help attract investors to get involved in the project.

Regarding the long-term plan, the railway should be expanded to Ca Mau Province and connect with the North-South express railway, Truong added.

National Assemblyman Luu Binh Nhuong supported the HCMC government’s proposal, noting that traffic development projects should not pass through residential areas due to high site clearance costs and the inherent danger.

Nguyen Ba Hoang, vice president of the HCMC University of Transport, shared the same view that developing traffic infrastructure projects near residential areas could lead to cost overruns. The Southern Institute of Science and Technology’s proposal would not only reduce site clearance costs but also ensure the project’s progress.

However, people currently located in urban areas probably will not use the express railway services, so transit vehicles will be needed, Hoang noted.

Experts have thrown their weight behind the project as it will help prop up socioeconomic growth in the localities the railway passes through and across the southern region as a whole.

Hoang, citing express railway projects in developed countries such as Japan and South Korea, suggested that the HCMC-Can Tho railway would help promote trade, ease traffic congestion and reduce environmental pollution in the region.

According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s forecast, by 2030, the number of passengers traveling between HCMC and Can Tho will rise 4.8 times versus 2008, while cargo volume will report a threefold increase.

Bui Trinh, an economic expert, said the project should have been executed a long time ago as the Mekong Delta region’s development does not correspond with its potential as the largest farm produce and seafood producing region in the country. To enhance the region’s economic development, traffic projects should be prioritized.

As for investment in the project, a representative of the Southern Institute of Science and Technology said the institute had signed a memorandum of understanding with Canada’s MorFund to accept an investment of 6.3 billion Canadian dollars, or some US$5 billion, for the project. The institute will complete the project report for the Ministry of Transport, the prime minister and the National Assembly later this year, so the launch can take place without further delay.

The consul general of Canada in HCMC on January 17 wrote to the institute’s head affirming that Canada would also assist with design, technology and project management for the project.

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