National railway projects worth billions of US dollars, which have been assigned to the Vietnam Railway Authority and Vietnam Railways, will be backed by the Ministry of Transport.

Under Decision 3092/QD-BGTVT signed by Minister Dinh La Thang, the 18 projects, which are mostly funded by official development assistance (ODA) from Japan and China, will be directly managed by the ministry.

The State-owned operator of the railways system, Vietnam Railways, has 13 projects – seven are under construction and six are being prepared for investment. The projects are worth thousands of billions of dong.

Notable projects that are being taken over by the ministry include the Hanoi City Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1) Yen Vien-Ngoc Hoi. Investment for the first phase will be worth 19.5 trillion VND (928.5 million USD) and the remainder of the second phase, worth 24.8 trillion VND (1.1 billion USD).

Another Vietnam Railways' project that will be handed to the ministry is one to upgrade the Hanoi-Lao Cai railway route at a cost of about 5.7 trillion VND (274.2 million USD).

Of the five projects currently under the management of the Vietnam Railway Authority, two are under construction and three are in investment preparation process.

The transport minister has also told all project management boards of Vietnam Railways and the Vietnam Railway Authority to merge into one under the ministry.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said that the change of project investor was a step in the ministry's restructuring routine.

"By doing this, Vietnam Railways will be able to concentrate on the equitisation process and focus more on operating and maintaining the railway infrastructure system," Dong said.

"When the projects have the ministry as the investor, all management experiences at ministry level will be utilised and it will be more convenient working with foreign partners," he added.

The Transport Engineering Construction and Quality Management Bureau under the ministry will be in charge in consulting for bids.-VNA