VIETNAM: An investment programme worth US$9·5bn over the next three years has been approved by parliament, paving the way for state railway DSVN to undertake significant modernisation works on key north-south corridors.

Due for completion by 2015, the package focuses on raising line speeds to 120 km/h on large sections of the largely metre-gauge network, including the 1 500 route-km main line between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Resignalling work is already underway on this corridor, and further funding will be made available to support the redevelopment of Hanoi’s main station. This is expected to become the country’s largest transport hub, served by both domestic and international long-distance services as well as several suburban and urban rail lines.

The investment package supports DSVN’s plans to work with Chinese partners to increase traffic between the two countries. The routes linking Hanoi with border crossings at Lao Cai and Dong Dang would be dual-gauge and double tracked throughout, and DSVN would also like to see both electrified.

The programme also envisages new line construction to serve ports, major industrial complexes and some tourist attractions. DSVN hopes to increase freight volumes from 7 million tonnes in 2011 to 13·7 million tonnes by 2015, whilst growing passenger ridership from 12 million passenger-journeys to 17·7 million.