VIETNAM: The Ministry of Transport expects to submit proposals to the government in September for the construction of a 1 545 km high speed line between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Announcing the project on August 14, the ministry told local media that the first stage of the new railway could be operational as soon as 2032.

Plans to develop a 1 435 mm gauge north-south trunk line to augment or replace DSVN’s existing 1 729 km metre gauge main line have been floated several times over the past three decades, and Vietnam signed an MoU with Japan in 2006 but that scheme did not progress.

The current proposal envisages that the new line would be designed for passenger services, with the existing line retained for freight.

Vietnam is looking to ramp up investment in its transport infrastructure to support its fast-growing economy as a regional manufacturing hub. According to Minister of Transport Nguyen Van, the national rail network is expected to be handling 15% of all freight and 19% of passenger traffic by 2050; an initial growth target would see DSVN carrying 16·5 million tonnes of freight and 30·9 million passengers by 2030.

The plan to be submitted to the Politburo of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam envisages phased development. Construction of two sections totalling 665 km would get underway by 2028 for completion by 2032 at an estimated cost of US$24·7bn. The remainder of the route would be completed between 2045 and 2050, at an estimated total cost of US$58·7bn.

Approving the country’s draft railway development strategy for 2021-50 last November, Nguyen said work would begin simultaneously on a 250 km northern section between Hanoi and Vinh, and a 450 km line between Ho Chi Minh and Nha Trang in the south.