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Vietnam railway system needs reform



Vietnam’s railways have become out of date after 100 years of use. Developing high-speed railways is a solution that has been discussed for years but no decision has ever been made.

Vietnam railway system needs reform

Vietnam Railways (VNR) General Director Dang Sy Manh noted that the five types of domestic transport, namely land, air, waterways, sea and railways, all have their own functions. However, the railway system have been at a disadvantage over a long period and has been uncompetitive with land and airway transport.

In Vietnam, railways account for less than one percent of the transport market, which stands in contrast to the situation in Japan, China and Thailand, where railways account for a large market share, thus allowing businesses to cut logistics fees.

Manh said the railway tracks, locomotives and train carriages all were built in the French colonial period, and are too old.

While other countries are using 1,435 mm gauge, Vietnam is still using 1,000 mm gauge. Since there are many important bridges and roads on the way, and many curves with small radius across mountain passes, trains cannot run at high speed. The fastest route now is the North-South one. But it takes 32 hours to reach the destination.

All 300 locomotives were imported from Czechia, Germany, China and Belgium. They have been in use for 30-40 years. There are 1,030 passenger carriages and 4,000 cargo carriages. They are more outdated than old Japanese carriages of the same age and the same diesel-run technology.

While old Japanese carriages can run themselves, Vietnamese carriages still need locomotives, which explains the lower performance.

Regarding the connections of railway infrastructure, Vietnam now has 3,143 kilometers of railways with 15 routes, including seven major ones.

The railways were built in the French colonial period with connections to mines, industrial production areas, factories and ports. However, many connections have been cut over the years, but the connections are necessary for cargo operations and passengers.

A report from VNR showed that 43 connections, or 184 kilometers in length, have been cut. There are only 50 connections left, including 28 connections in use with a length of 69 kilometers, while the remaining 22 connections with the length of 115 kilometers are not operating.

“As a result of the cuts, cargo railway transport is limited and it cannot compete with road transport,” he said.

Meanwhile, investments in railway infrastructure remain very modest. The capital allocated to railways development just accounts for 2.17 percent of total investment in transport. The annual budget allocated to railway maintenance just meets 40 percent of demand. Because of the lack of capital, VNR still uses items which need replacement.

In 2021, for example, the budget for maintenance is VND2.822 trillion, while VND7 trillion is needed. The state budget is scanty, and it’s impossible to call for private investments.

In fact, some routes are attractive to private investors, including the Ha Long – Cai Lan and cargo gathering grounds. However, as the regulations are not clear enough, VNR still cannot mobilize private capital.

High-speed railways

The Government on October 19 approved a plan on building nine more railways by 2030, including a high-speed North-South one.

Vietnam railway system needs reform

Under the decision on the railway network in 2021-2030, the existing lines will be upgraded, connected with international routes, while VNR needs to prepare resources to begin the construction of new lines, with priority given to the North-South high-speed railway.

In addition to the seven existing lines with the total length of 2,440 kilometers, the national railway network would have nine more lines, 2,362 kilometers, by 2030.

The longest line will be the North-South one, beginning at Ngoc Hoi Station in Hanoi and ending at Thu Thiem Station in HCM City, 1,545 kilometers long. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) has proposed the construction of the Hanoi – Vinh and HCM City – NhaTrang sections prior to 2030.

Phan Le Binh, an expert from JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), said the modernization of railways has been considered thoroughly over the last 10 years, and now is the time to make a decision on how to attract investment.

Binh said that high-speed railways will require huge capital. Experts have suggested investing first in the Hanoi – Vinh and HCM City – Nha Trang sections.

There are two differing opinions on how to build high-speed railways. Some experts suggest upgrading the old railway into high-speed ones with an average speed of 160-200 kilometers per hour for both passenger and cargo transport. Others believe that it would be better to build new railways with the speed of 300-350 kilometers per hour, only for passenger transport.

Manh of VNR believes that new railways are needed, and not the upgrading of existing ones. He warned that high-speed railways need 1,435mm gauge, and it’s necessary not just to remove the rails, but also replace everything, from the safety corridor and roadbeds to sleepers.

According to Manh, Vietnam should follow other countries – building new high-speed railways while maintaining old ones for transport purposes suited to their capacity, such as carrying local passengers or cargo. Japan has the high-speed Shinkansen, but still maintains old railways for passenger and cargo transport. 

Vu Diep



NA Chairman meets Vietnamese community in Indonesia



National Assembly (NA) Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue on August 4 met with officials and staff of the Vietnamese Embassy in Jakarta, the Vietnamese Permanent Mission to ASEAN and the Vietnamese community in Indonesia.

NA Chairman meets Vietnamese community in Indonesia hinh anh 1National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue and representatives of the Vietnamese community in Indonesia (Photo: VNA)

Jakarta – National Assembly (NA) Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue on August 4 met with officials and staff of the Vietnamese Embassy in Jakarta, the Vietnamese Permanent Mission to ASEAN and the Vietnamese community in Indonesia.

According to Vietnamese Ambassador to Indonesia Ta Van Thong, about 500 Vietnamese people are living in Indonesia. Over the years, the embassy had focused on protecting Vietnamese citizens in the country, he said.

He noted that despite the global economic recession, two-way trade between Vietnam and Indonesia has still increased 10% each year to 14 billion USD in 2022. He held that the goal of 15 billion USD set by the two sides can be reached before 2028.

Many Vietnamese people have chosen Indonesia for travelling, while many Vietnamese businesses have invested in the country, he added.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Nguyen Hai Bang, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to ASEAN, and ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Tran Duc Binh said that Vietnam and Indonesia are important partners of each other in ASEAN. The Vietnamese top legislator’s participation at the 44th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-44) is an important external activity in both bilateral and multilateral aspects, they underlined.

Representatives from Vietnamese businesses in Indonesia proposed that the NA and Government continue designing policies and measures to promote economic, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.

Addressing the meeting, NA Chairman Hue highlighted the sound relations between Vietnam and Indonesia, initiated by President Ho Chi Minh and President Sukarno.

He said that Vietnam with a population of 100 million and Indonesia with nearly 300 million people have great cooperation potential, asking Vietnamese businesses, diplomatic agencies and community to continue to promote bilateral collaboration in promising areas towards the goal of 15 billion USD in two-way trade. Indonesia is currently the third largest of Vietnam among ASEAN members, he noted.

He said he hopes the embassy and Vietnamese community will continue to act as a bridge connecting the two countries. He also asked the Vietnam Trade Office to create optimal conditions for businesses of both sides to promote partnership.

He affirmed that the Party and State always consider the Vietnamese community abroad as an indispensable part of the Vietnamese nation, and expressed his hope that the Vietnamese community in Indonesia will maintain the language and culture of Vietnam.

He held that it is necessary to organise a Vietnamese Language Day abroad, along with the building of cultural facilities for Vietnamese people in other countries to gather./.


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Voluntary blood donation helps save lives



Many people across Vietnam, regardless of their ages and jobs, have actively donated blood to save lives of many others.

Voluntary blood donation helps save lives hinh anh 1Tran Minh Men (L) and another blood donor. (Photo:

Hanoi – Many people across Vietnam, regardless of their ages and jobs, have actively donated blood to save lives of many others.

In late July, 100 outstanding blood donors nationwide were honoured at a three-day programme in the capital city of Hanoi.

Among them, there are 20 female delegates, 16 representatives from the education sector, eight medical staff, seven from the armed forces and three ethnic minorities. The oldest delegate is 61 years old and the youngest is 22 years old.

There were 10 delegates who donated blood 19-29 times, 60 delegates 30-49 times, 20 delegates 50-69 times, eight 70-99 times, and two at least 100 times.

Tran Minh Men, a 52-year-old man, has donated blood 102 times over the past 22 years. He is now head of the Blood Bank Team in Nghi Duc commune, Tanh Linh district, the south central province of Binh Thuan.

He shared at a meeting with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh that he has also encouraged more than 3,000 others to participate in blood donation campaigns.

According to him, the greatest joy of those who participate in those campaigns is that patients are healthy and return to a normal life.

Meanwhile, Ho Kim Phuong from Ho Chi Minh City is the female donor with the most times donating blood at 78 times. She has participated in blood donation once every 3 months since 1997.

“Having witnessed many difficult and extreme situations, I always think “I can give what I can give, I can help someone with what I can”. My blood is available in my body, I can help people, help life until there is no health left. My family has four members, and all of us have donated blood more than 250 times, my husband has donated 72 times and is now over the age to donate blood, my daughter 52 times, my son 48 times,” Phuong said.

Voluntary blood donation helps save lives hinh anh 2Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)

Over the past 15 years, as many as 1,500 voluntary blood donors nationwide have been honoured.

Last year, over 1.43 million units of blood were donated nationwide, 99% of which came from voluntary blood donors.

Since early this year, about 900,000 units of blood have been collected through various campaigns./.


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Vietnam News Agency has third deputy general director



Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has signed a decision appointing Nguyen Thi Su, head of the Domestic News Department of the Vietnam News Agency, to the position of VNA Deputy General Director.

Vietnam News Agency has third deputy general director hinh anh 1Nguyen Thi Su has become the third deputy general director of the VNA (Photo: VNA)

HanoiPrime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has signed a decision appointing Nguyen Thi Su, head of the Domestic News Department of the Vietnam News Agency, to the position of VNA Deputy General Director.

Su, born in 1972, has become one of the three deputy general directors of the VNA, the State-run news agency of Vietnam, along with Nguyen Tuan Hung and Doan Thi Tuyet Nhung.

Su graduated from the Hanoi University of Law. She started her career at the VNA in 1994 as a reporter. She was promoted to the head of the diplomatic news desk of the VNA Domestic News Department in 2006, deputy head of the department in 2011 and head of the department in 2019.

Currently, she is also a member of the VNA Party Committee and Vice President of the Union of Journalists of the VNA.

[Vietnam News Agency has new Deputy General Director]

The VNA is responsible for providing official information and documents of the Party and State, according to the Government’s recently-released Decree No 87/2022/NĐ-CP. It provides information in service of the Party leadership and State management; and collects and provides news through various forms of press and multimedia to be published by the mass media, and for the public and readers at home and abroad./.


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