Hanoi rail bridge to replace French-built Long Bien remains on paper
The Yen Vien-Ngoc Hoi railway line in Hanoi was approved in 2004 with a bridge to replace Long Bien, but construction has yet to start.
It will run 28.7 km with dual gauge tracks of 1,435 mm and 1,000 mm.
The line will replace Long Bien Bridge on the Red River and the Duong Bridge crossing the eponymous river, a branch of the Red River.
In 2007 the Ministry of Transport made changes to the plan, dividing it into two phases.
Set to be completed in 2017, phase one was expected to cost VND19.46 trillion (US$840 million), including a VND13.97-trillion loan from Japan.
Phase two had an estimated price tag of VND24.82 trillion, including VND20.34 trillion from Japanese ODA.
The state-owned Vietnam Railway Corporation (VNR) will oversee the work.
In 2009 it signed a technical consultancy contract with a Japanese partner.
The Japanese contractor is a consortium of five companies led by the Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc.
In 2014 a number of officials in the Railway Project Management Unit (RPMU) under the VNR were investigated for accepting bribes from the Japanese consultancy.
It stalled the project as the contract with the consultant had to be terminated.
The project was taken over by the ministry, but so far it has only acquired land for the work and identified a new contractor.
Construction has not started and its completion has been rescheduled to 2024.
In 2019 the estimated cost was increased to VND81.53 trillion.
The ministry has explained the delay by saying the scale of the work is large and new techniques and technologies would be used.
Last month the government approved the ministry’s proposal to transfer the project to the Hanoi city administration.
The ministry is now in the process of handing it over, and it is obvious the 2024 deadline for completion of the work will be missed.
But the VNR said this week that Long Bien Bridge would undergo a complete evaluation in the next two-three months prior to its reparation.
Long Bien Bridge over the Red River was built in 1902. It was damaged during the Vietnam War and repaired at a cost of VND116 billion ($4.99 million) between 1995 and 2010.
In 2015 more repairs were done to make it safe enough until its replacement by the No. 1 urban railway line.
The bridge has suffered several instances of damage, with two holes appearing along its surface last month.
Its maintenance cost VND8.5 billion in 2021 and over VND9.7 billion this year.
By Anh Duy – VnExpress.net – June 10, 2022