Saturday, December 12, 2009

Vietnam to create Shinkansen system

According to this Japan Times article, it looks like Vietnam will be adopting a high-speed railway system based on Japan's Shinkansen technology to create a north-south rail link connecting Hanoi and Hoh Chi Minh City (Saigon). If the Wikipedia article is to be believed, the current metre-gauge North-South Railway "holds the world's record for being the railway on which the speed of the trains is slowest. The highest speed that the trains of Vietnam Railways Corporation> have reached on this line so far is 30 hours from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi or vice versa", a distance of about 1,700 km. (By comparision the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen route from Tokyo to Fukuoka is about 1,200 km).

Costs are estimated to be in the region of US$56 billion (5 trillion yen), and the project depends on obtaining financing as well as final approval by the Vietnamese parliament, expected in May next year (though presumably this will be more of a rubber stamp matter). The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment has requested that the Japan International Cooperation Agency implement a feasibility study on the project, and construction is expected to be in stages starting at both ends of the line with a 280 km section in the north between Hanoi and Vinh, the capital of Nghe An Province, and a 380 km section in the south between Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang, the capital of Khanh Hoa Province.

I imagine a building an entirely new high-speed, high-capacity railway line would make sense in Vietnam, which like Japan is a comparatively thin, elongated country where most of the major population centres can be joined by a single route. Japanese Shinkansen technology has also been adopted by Taiwan, and trains based on Shinkansen designs are running on mainland China.

Further links:.

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