VIETNAM prime minister, Mr Pham Minh Chinh, has approved the 2021-2030 rail network strategy, which envisages the construction of nine new lines across the country at a cost of Dong 240 trillion ($US 10.3bn). The strategy also includes plans to upgrade the country’s seven existing railway lines.

The plan’s goals include renovating and upgrading the existing network, improving international connections, and building new lines, prioritising the North-South high-speed railway. There has been debate over the speed of the North-South line, with both 200km/h and 350km/h put forward.

The plan foresees rail carrying 11.8 million tonnes of freight annually by 2030 accounting for 0.27% of the market, as well as carrying 460 million passengers, accounting for 4.4% of the market.

The nine new lines, which will total 2362km, are:

  • the North-South railway from Ngoc Hoi to Thu Thiem in Ho Chi Minh City (double track, 1435mm-gauge, 1545km)
  • Yen Vien - Pha Lai - Ha Long - Cai Lan (single track, dual-gauge 1000mm and 1435mm, 129km)
  • the ring road in the east of Hanoi city from Ngoc Hoi - Lac Dao - Bac Hong (double track, dual-gauge 1000mm and 1435mm, 59km). This includes converting the Ngoc Hoi - Yen Vien and Gia Lam - Lac Dao sections for commuter services.
  • Hanoi - Hai Phong, part of the Lao Cai - Hanoi - Hai Phong line (double track, 1435mm-gauge, 102km)
  • Vung Ang - Tan Ap - Mu Gia to the Vietnam-Laos border (single track, 1435mm-gauge, 103km)
  • Bien Hoa - Vung Tau (double track Bien Hoa - Thi Vai, single track Thi Vai - Vung Tau, 1435mm-gauge, 84km)
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho (double track, 1435mm-gauge, 174km)
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Loc Ninh to the Vietnam-Cambodia border (double track Di An - Chon Thanh, single track Chon Thanh - Loc Ninh, 1435mm-gauge, 128km)
  • Thu Thiem - Long Thanh International Airport (double track, 1435mm-gauge, 38km).

The seven lines to be upgraded by 2030, which total 2440km, include:

  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh City (single track, 1000mm-gauge, 1726km)
  • Hanoi - Lao Cai (single track, 1000mm-gauge, 296km). This includes the construction of a 4.8km, dual-gauge connection from Lao Cai to Ha Khau Bac, China
  • Hanoi - Hai Phong (single track, 1000mm-gauge, 102km)
  • Hanoi - Thai Nguyen (single track, dual gauge 1000mm and 1435mm, 55km)
  • Hanoi - Lang Son route from Hanoi station to Dong Dang station (single track, dual gauge  1000mm and 1435mm, 167km)
  • Kep - Chi Linh (single track, 1435mm-gauge, 38km)
  • Kep - Luu Xa (single track, 1435mm-gauge, 56km).

The government will also continue to maintain existing branch lines, including Bac Hong - Van Dien, Pho Lu - Xuan Giao, Mai Pha - Na Duong, Dieu Tri - Quy Nhon and Binh Thuan - Phan Thiet.

The strategy foresees the network expanding to 6354km across 25 lines by 2050. This includes completing the North-South railway, and constructing the Lao Cai - Hanoi - Hai Phong, Vung Ang - Tan Ap - Mu Gia, Bien Hoa - Vung Tau, Ho Chi Minh City - Loc Ninh, Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho, and Hanoi - Dong Dang lines. The government will also maintain existing lines and upgrade them where necessary to meet freight and passenger demands.

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