The pillars of Duong Bridge spanning the Duong River in Hanoi have been seriously damaged. (Photo: baotintuc.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) – About 180 railway bridges across the country are in need of urgent repairs to ensure traffic safety, according to Vietnam Railways (VNR).

Doan Duy Hoach, Deputy General Director of Vietnam Railways, said statistics from VNR showed that there were 1,920 railway bridges nationwide. Most of them have a long service life.

However, only 86 of the 180 bridges deemed weak were on the list of projects in need of upgrades. This has greatly affected the performance of VNR, he said.

Trains often had to reduce their speed or the loading capacity while crossing weak bridges, Hoach told Tin Tuc (News) newspaper.

The dilapidated bridges include Duong Bridge and Ho Bridge across the Duong River, Bac Giang Bridge across the Thuong River, Ninh Binh Bridge across the Day River and Quay Bridge across the Lach Tray River. These bridges were at risk of collapse because they were about 100 years old. Many of them were built during French colonial times and have suffered damage to their supporting pillars.

Those bridges were vulnerable to being struck by waterway vehicles, said Ta Quang Son, head of the technical office of Ha Hai Railway Joint Stock Company, which manages many weak railway bridges.

Tran Van Tho, Deputy Head of Vietnam Inland Waterways Administration, shared the same opinion.

He said old bridges that did not meet the requirements for waterway traffic should be upgraded or replaced. Priority should be given to Long Bien Bridge and Duong Bridge in Hanoi and Quay Bridge in the northern city of Hai Phong because these bridges did not meet clearance height requirements and their pillars did not undero preventative measures to protect the structures from collision.

To ensure traffic safety and smooth operations of the railway sector, Doan Duy Hoach said weak bridges should be regularly maintained or replaced.

He suggested that the Ministry of Transport should prioritise investment for repairs to 86 weak bridges, with top priority given to 44 bridges as part of a project on upgrading weak bridges along the Hanoi-HCM City railway route. It was necessary to upgrade 32 weak bridges on the Da Nang-Saigon section and standardise the loading capacities on the entire route, he said.

However, the ministry said a lack of capital was still a huge problem. State allocations for bridge maintenance only met about 40 percent of the required capital.

According to Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong, authorities from railway, roads and waterway sectors should strengthen measures to restrict bridge load capacities and raise awareness among bridge users of traffic laws.

These sectors should review all the bridges, especially the ones facing high risks of waterway vehicle collision, and finalise warning systems for such vehicles, Truong said.-VNA