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18 August 2009

Vietnam eyes Japanese bullet train system

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Vietnam plans to use Japanese bullet train technology for a transnational rail link, AFP reported, citing a story in Japanese business daily

The Vietnam government had already given basic approval for the Shinkansen system, although it still required financing and formal consent from the prime minister, Nikkei business daily quoted the chief executive of state-owned Vietnam Railways Corp Nguyen Huu Bang as saying.

Funding for the 56-billion-dollar project remained riddled with uncertainties, the report said, with Hanoi seeking Japanese aid and funds from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

The 1,560-kilometre (970 mile) high-speed rail link would replace the current colonial-era train line connecting the capital Hanoi with the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, a journey that now takes three days.

Vietnam hopes to launch the high-speed trains by 2020 and plans to start by building three sections, including a 90-kilometre stretch between the central coastal cities of Danang and Hue, seen as potentially most profitable.

The Nikkei said Japan's government and its railway industry, facing saturation domestically, want to expand the market overseas for Shinkansen trains and have high hopes for the potential in Vietnam.

However, the report added that cost estimates were still seen as inadequate, and that Japan was believed to have suggested that Vietnam postpone the planned opening of the high-speed rail service until 2036 or later. Vietnam Railways Corp. in Hanoi declined to comment on the report.


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