VNR council chairman, Mr Vu Anh Minh, told Vietnam Plus that the operator’s fleet of outdated locomotives and coaches were resulting in higher fuel consumption and increased maintenance costs. The 2017 Railway Law dictates that passenger locomotives and coaches must not be more than 40 years old, while freight trains must not be more than 45 years old, meaning part of the current fleet is due for renewal.

Of the 257 locomotives in operation, 115 locomotives have been in use for less than 20 years, 18 for 20-30 years, 89 for 30-40 years and 45 for more than 40 years. About 667 coaches of the 1008 in use are less than 30-years-old, while 103 have been in operation for 35-40 years and 163 for 40 years or more.

Minh said VNR has been working with foreign partners on an investment solution for the plan. “The partner will build the trains and offer them to the VNR on a lease-purchase agreement,” he said. “We expect 50 new trains to go into operation in the next 3-5 years.”  

The project is expected to cost Dong 300bn ($US 12.9m) per coach. VNR will also ask the partner to form a joint venture with Gia Lam Train Company or Di An Train Company to lower the cost of manufacturing the trains while ensuring domestic workers and materials were used.

VNR is also planning to upgrade its existing coaches.

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