At Da Lat station (Photo: baolamdong)
Hanoi (VNA) – The Vietnam Railway Department has drafted plans to lease out infrastructure in the Da Lat-Trai Mat rail section to mobilise private investment for developing railway infrastructure.

The lease of the first rail section aims to create a "breakthrough" in the operation of the country's railways.

The 6.7km Da Lat-Trai Mat stretch is part of the Thap Cham-Da Lat rail route built in 1932 and unused since 1972.

In 1991 the stretch was restored and put into operation again to carry visitors to Linh Ung Pagoda and nearby areas in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

The meagre number of passengers served by the route and the degraded infrastructure are a burden for the railway department.

Figures from the department show that in the past three years the Da Lat-Trai Mat section has earned annual revenues of 2.981 billion VND (over 130,000 USD), while maintenance expenses amount to 1.27 billion VND (56,700 USD), operation expenses to 2.691 billion VND (over 120,000 USD), and infrastructure fees to 280 million VND per year.

"On average, the operation of the Da Lat-Trai Mat section gets a subsidy of 983 million VND per year [from the Government]," Khuong The Duy, deputy chief of the railway operator, said.

"The subsidy will increase in future because infrastructure has been degrading and the number of passengers is declining."

The department has lands and other properties like the ancient villas situated inside the nearly 44,000sq.m Da Lat station at 1 Quang Trung street.

"Mobilising funds from investors for restoring and upgrading infrastructure and locomotives to effectively operate and serve Da Lat's tourism industry is a very urgent need," Duy said.

Under the proposal by the Vietnam Railway Department, the leasing would be divided into two phases. In phase 1, the investor will have to spend on construction, management, operation, and maintenance of the section.

In the second phase, the investor will develop tourism and hospitality facilities along the route to tap the tourism potential of the route.-VNA