Vietnam abandons Shinkansen technology for slower railway

Vietnam has effectively dropped plans to adopt Japan’s Shinkansen bullet-train technology, opting for a slower speed rail link between its two main cities.

Japan’s high-speed bullet train technology would have linked Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in a minimum of five and a half hours, compared with 29-38 hours at present.

Vietnam plans to lower the speed from more than 300 kph to 160-200 kph–at least in the initial stage–to reduce the estimated 5 trillion yen ($50 billion) plus project cost by 20 percent, government and other sources said.

Japan is now expected to face stiff competition from South Korea and China, which may compete for the project with a lower-speed technology.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency, commissioned by the Vietnamese government to conduct feasibility studies, is reviewing plans. JICA will compile a final report as early as this month.

In 2010, the Vietnamese Cabinet approved plans to adopt the Shinkansen technology, but the project came under fire in the parliament because it would cost more than the national budget of 3.8 trillion yen at the time.

To cut costs, JICA was considering plans to open two high-traffic sections–between Hanoi and Vinh, and between Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang–ahead of other portions.

The agency is now studying the possibility of building only limited parts of the two sections on an experimental basis.

JICA sources said there is chance for Japanese companies to supply sturdy elevated tracks that can service freight trains, as well as traffic control and fee collection systems, even if the Shinkansen technology is dropped.

The sources also said there remains a possibility that the railway will be able to accommodate Shinkansen-style trains in the future if tracks are laid in a linear fashion.

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Source : asahi

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