VN needs double-track railway for further development: experts hinh anh 1The Hanoi-HCM City express train travels through the Hai Van Pass. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Major problems of Vietnam’s railway sector will be resolved if a double-track railway is developed on the route from the north to the south of the country, experts said on November 15.

Vuong Dinh Khanh, former vice director general of the Vietnam Railway Corporation (VRC), said at a talk about railway development held by Giao thong (Transport) newspaper that for decades, the corporation – a major railway operator and service provider in Vietnam – desired to run 25 train pairs, but in fact operated just 18 train pairs, because infrastructure failed to meet required conditions.

A double-track railway usually involves running one track in each direction, compared with a single-track railway where trains in both directions share the same track.

“Current limited infrastructure hindered the sector’s development, weakened its competitiveness and posed risks to road safety,” he said.

Khanh said it is time for Vietnam to seriously consider developing a double-track railway and funding the development, as the National Assembly is discussing amendments to the 2005 Railway Law, which came into effect on January 1, 2006, and has proven problematic and inadequate for current and future development of the sector.

Nguyen Huy Hien, vice head of the Railway Department under the Transport Ministry said a major problem for the railway sector is that the VRC is managing, using and running the railway system, which is being funded by government.

The railway system – a public asset –is also managed by the Transport Ministry, he said, implying an overlapping in management between the government body and the corporation.

Hien said the railway bill needs to clarify roles and responsibilities of the parties involved.

Moreover, the bill should be better oriented towards the market, meaning that not only the VRC, but also other enterprises should be allowed to operate the national railway system, which will help create competition and reduce transport costs.

Nguyen Van Doanh, a VRC Corporation board member, said it is difficult to attract private investment in railway infrastructure.

In the short-term, the state-budget will still majorly fund railway infrastructure development in case infrastructure development and operation are separated.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said the ministry will submit to the government a proposal on high-speed North-South Railway with a speed of 160-200km per hour.

He said under the proposal, railway lines will be standardised and upgraded to better serve passengers.

Le Minh Dao, vice head of the ministry’s Planning and Investment Department, cited reports by the Vietnam -Japan Consulting Joint Venture saying that until 2030, the North-South transport corridor will see demand of 534,000 passengers per day or 195 million passengers per year, 4.5-5.5 times higher than that of 2010.

High-speed railway is needed as other means of transports are unable to carry some 138 million passengers per year.

In the NA’s agenda last week, the deputy minister agreed on the need to amend the 2005 Railway Law. He noted that railway infrastructure has deteriorated and was outdated. While most countries are using tracks that are 1.435m wide (broad gauge), Vietnam is still using 1m-wide tracks (metre gauge). The bill is expected to be discussed on November 18.-VNA