LAST MONTH, Vietnam Railways unveiled proposals to build a double-track elevated railway across the centre of Hanoi, replacing its existing single-track line which runs at grade with many level crossings. Connecting the existing Red River bridge at Long Bien with the southern suburb of Van Diem, the 13 km viaduct would follow the present alignment (map RG 5.96 p277). As well as ending long-standing conflicts with road traffic, it would solve DSVN’s increasing problems with squatters building houses along its right of way.

The scheme was presented to Prime Minister Phan Van Khai by Deputy Transport Minister and DSVN Director-General Nao Ninh Binh, who said the work could be completed in time for the city’s 1000th anniversary in 2010. Running between 8 and 15m above ground level, the reinforced concrete box girder with sound barrier walls would carry two metre-gauge tracks suitable for operation at 60 to 80 km/h. As a temporary measure, DSVN hopes to install automatic barriers at most level crossings in the city over the next two years.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Planning & Investment has approved DSVN’s plans to build a new elevated alignment for its southern main line through Ho Chi Minh City (RG 6.00 p334). The reconstruction of 47·2route-km, including 8 km of viaduct between Binh Trieu and Hoa Hung, is currently costed at 8 trillion dong (US$571m). The Ministry of Transport favours awarding a BOT concession, and hopes to obtain Japanese funding. Site clearance is due to begin in 2002, leading to a start of construction in 2005. In the longer term DSVN would like to introduce cross-city electric suburban services between Trang Bom and Binh Chang.