DEVELOPMENT of a high-capacity cross-city suburban railway in Hanoi could be completed by 2010, DSVN confirmed last month, following approval of pre-feasibility studies by the Vietnamese government. Prime Minister Phan Van Khai also indicated that the government would fund between 50% and 60% of the estimated 9200bn dong cost. The Ministry of Transport plans to seek international loans and joint venture funding.

According to DSVN Director-General Nguyen Huu Bang, a 25 km section of the existing north-south main line between Ngoc Hoi and Yen Vien, which now runs at street level through the heart of the city, would be rebuilt on an elevated alignment and converted to mixed gauge double track. The Long Bien bridge over the Red River would be rebuilt, and a new bridge will cross the Dong River. Hanoi station would be reconstructed as a bus-rail interchange, topped by a 15 to 21 storey office complex.

A frequent standard-gauge suburban service operating at up to 80 km/h will complement the existing metre-gauge main line operations. Suburban services would initially be worked by diesel multiple-units but electrification is envisaged at a later date. Trains would run at 5min intervals at peak times, each carrying up to 450 passengers.

Subject to detailed planning and tendering later this year, work is expected to get underway in 2005 with the northern section from Hanoi to Gia Lam and Ngoc Hoi completed by 2009.