AMBITIOUS PLANS to develop the metre gauge network in Vietnam have been drawn up by the Ministry of Communications & Transport. By far the largest tranche of the 13000bn dong programme would be destined for the 1730 km Trans-Vietnam trunk line between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with 10500bn needed to take forward an upgrading programme that has seen journey times for the Reunification Express, now the North-South Express, cut from 66h to 32h over 10 years.

A further 1530bn dong would be spent on the line from Hanoi to the Chinese border at Lao Cai on the through metre gauge route to Kunming, with further funds needed to modernise the network of lines centred on Hanoi.

Perhaps even more ambitious are proposals for construction of new lines to ports along the coast. These include a 42 km cut-off from Yen Vien in the Hanoi suburbs to Pha Lai, providing a direct link to Halong at a cost of 320bn dong.

Project management experts with cash will no doubt be welcomed in Hanoi.