Over 130 weak bridges on North-South railway to be upgraded hinh anh 1Speed and load capacity of north-south railway trains will be improved thanks to the upgrade of weak bridges. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA)
– A project to upgrade weak bridges and reinforce bridge pillars on the railway route connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will help increase their capacities and ensure safety for trains and passengers.

The project, which will receive 1.95 trillion VND (83.85 million USD) in investment from the State Budget, is set to rebuild 119 bridges and upgrade 12 others from 2018 to 2021.

According to the Railway Project Management Board, most bridges on the railway line connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City were built a century ago, using French standards with low capacities. Stone and concrete abutments have weathered over time. Steel girders are cracked and covered in rust.

Meanwhile, the development of river transport has put pressure on weak railway bridges.

To ensure safety and minimise losses caused by collisions between waterway vehicles and railway bridges, there is an urgent need for repair or replacement.

Moreover, railway lines were severely destroyed in wartime. Although bridges have been repaired, their capacities are still limited, reducing the railway’s competitiveness compared to other means of transport.

In recent years, to ensure train safety and step by step increase bridges’ capacities, some bridges on the North-South railway line have been invested with various capital sources such as credits, development investment capital, and ODA. However, due to limited capital sources, investments were only poured into some bridges that are really weak and directly affect the safety of trains.

“The project aims to increase bridges’ capacity to 4.2 tonnes per metre, ensure safety and increase average speed. It will help to lift a 25-carriage train’s average transport capacity up to 140 tonnes, utilise pulling power of modern locomotives and enhance effectiveness of the investment,” the Railway Project Management Board said.

Besides, some railway bridges’ navigation height does not meet the current requirements as well as the future inland waterway transport development planning. Therefore, it is necessary and urgent to reinforce their pillars.

According to Vu Anh Minh, head of the Vietnam Railways Members’ Council, investment into railway improvement remains low, meeting only 1 percent of demand.

At present, 6 trillion VND (258 million USD) is needed to upgrade railway infrastructure; however, only 30 percent has been funded.

“With that 30 percent, we have to choose facilities that need urgent repair. Meanwhile, other constructions have become degraded, posing threats to railway safety,” said Minh.

“To increase the average speed by 10 percent, 10 trillion VND (430 million USD) is needed to upgrade the whole North-South railway system. By reducing traveling time from 11 hours to 10 hours, the difference in economic value is not high while the cost is huge. Therefore, Vietnam Railways focuses more on increasing trains’ loading capacity,” he added.

Over 130 weak bridges on North-South railway to be upgraded hinh anh 2New Ghenh bridge on the north-south railway route is officially open to traffic for trains (Photo: VNA)

On March 20, 2016, the collapse of Ghenh Bridge in the southern province of Dong Nai shut down the North-South railway, leaving enterprises dealing with soaring transport costs.

The collision between a barge and the bridge pillar destroyed Ghenh Bridge and isolated Saigon Station in HCM City and Song Than Station in Dong Nai province from the national railway line.

The bridge was repaired and came into operation in July, 2016, three months after the incident.-VNA

There are more than 1,400 bridges with a total length of 36,332m on the North-South railway. They are 127 bridges on the Hanoi - Vinh section, 437 on the Vinh - Da Nang section and 892 on the Da Nang - Ho Chi Minh City section. Many of them have very low capacity of about 3.6 tonnes per metre, especially in parts between the central city of Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City.