The Vietnam North–South express railway is a proposed high speed railway that would replace the current North–South railway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The new railway would be a double-track standard gauge (1,435 mm) electric railway with a track length of 1,570 km. Train speeds have been proposed from anywhere between 150 km/h to 350 km/h.
The current Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City railway is a single track metre-gauge railway using diesel locomotives. The fastest service on the 1,726 km track takes 29 hrs, 30 mins at an average speed of 58.5 km/h. This railway was completed in 1936 (known then as the Transindochinois Railway), and the journey took 40 hours. This is the same speed of some local services that still operate today.
If the express railway is built with a speed of 350 km/h, the travel time between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City would be reduced to five hours and 20 minutes.
The new express railway was first officially proposed in 2007, with construction to begin in 2010. The plan was cancelled in 2010, only to be revived again in 2012.
A report un 2013 concluded that it would be cheaper to build a new one than rehabilitate the old line.
Since then there have been annual announcements of a new feasibility study that will be submitted for consideration by the National Assembly.
The most recent update in August 2020 reported that the Ministry of Transport (MoT) was in the preparation process stage, with an estimated investment of US$58.7 billion.
Proposed Construction Timeline
The railway would be built in stages, with the first phase beginning with Hanoi – Vinh and Ho Chi Minh City – Nha Trang between 2020 – 2032.
The second phase between 2030 – 2045 would complete the remaining sections.
The train speed of the North–South express railway has not been settled upon yet, as that will be a determining factor of the final project cost. A high-speed railway like the Shinkansen (which operates at 320 km/h) would be more expensive to build than a railway that can run at up to 200 km/h (such as the railway currently being built in Laos).
The line will follow a similar route to the current line along the coastal regions. The route will be shorter though due to the new line taking straighter route to the old at-grade line.
Most of the current line is at-grade, causing regular accidents with so many road crossing across the country. The new line will be separated from traffic, with sixty percent of the tracks on viaducts, 10 percent underground and 30 percent at ground level.
[No more Hanoi Train Street when trains are separated from traffic.]
The official route and train speeds aren’t known yet, so this page will be updated if/when they become known.
$65 bln master plan proposed for Vietnam traffic infrastructure – [20/04/21]
“A Transport Ministry agency has proposed spending VND1,000-1,500 trillion renovating road, rail, inland waterway, sea and air transport infrastructure from now until 2030.”
High-speed railway imperative for Việt Nam’s development – [08/04/21]
“Due to Việt Nam’s natural features and geography, the development of a high-speed railway is imperative and any delays will hinder socio-economic growth, Chairman of Vietnam Railways Vũ Anh Minh has said.”
Need for high-speed rail arguments continue unabated – [28/03/21]
“More than 10 years after they were first proposed, high-speed railroad plans remain mired in concerns and disagreement over speeds and cost.”
High-speed trains proposed to link Hanoi, HCMC with central region – [20/02/21]
“Two high-speed railroad routes between Hanoi and Vinh and HCMC and Nha Trang are expected to be operational by 2030.”
In decline, what’s the future for Vietnam’s historic North-South railway? – [02/03/21]
“Vietnam’s North-South railway has remained much the same since it was first built 85 years ago, with the iconic line highlighting the halting nature of Vietnamese infrastructure projects as plans to modernise have gone without progress for more than a decade.”
200 kph dual purpose railway better option for Vietnam – [05/11/20]
“A 200 kph rail route that can carry both passengers and cargo will benefit Vietnam more than a 320 kph passenger exclusive, an expert says.”
Vietnam’s high-speed railway and the profitability of “Shinkansen” [PDF] – [September 2020]
Report by Tomoo Kikuchi and Tomoyo Nakamura for Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Vietnam Politburo to review progress of US$59-billion North-South express railway – [11/08/20]
“Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has tasked the Ministry of Transport (MoT) with reporting the progress of the preparation process for the North-South express railway project with an estimated investment of VND1,350 trillion (US$58.7 billion) to the Politburo, the country’s supreme decision-making body.”
NA deputies urge for quick implementation of North-South high-speed railway project – [12/06/20]
“At the ongoing ninth session of the 14th legislature on June 11, National Assembly deputies agreed that it is necessary to quickly deploy the North-South high-speed railway project to create a strong motivation for socio-economic development.”
Good funding urged for appraisal of North-South express railway’s pre-feasibility study – [02/06/20]
“Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has ordered relevant ministries to allocate sufficient funding for the appraisal of the pre-feasibility study of the North-South high-speed railway project.”
Controversial express railway project to go before NA next year – [29/07/19]
“The Government will submit the controversial North-South high-speed railway project to the National Assembly (NA) in May next year.”
High speed railway requires careful thought – [26/07/19]
“Cao Sy Kiem, former director general of the State Bank of Viet Nam, talks to the newspaper Kinh tế & Đô thị on the need to think twice before making an official decision on the construction of the high speed North-South railway line.”
Vietnam should forget about high speed railway until 2030 – [25/07/19]
Opinion piece by Huynh The Du, lecturer at Fulbright University.
Vietnam could halve cost of north-south high-speed rail by reducing train speed: ministry – [09/07/19]
“The construction of a high-speed railway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City could cost only US$26 billion, compared to the initial estimate of $59 billion, if its operational speed is reduced from 350km/h to 200km/h, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment.”
Hyundai Group interested in investing in Vietnam’s colossal express railway – [31/05/19]
“South Korea multinational conglomerate Hyundai has expressed its interest in joining into the North-South bullet train project by providing comprehensive solutions from planning, capital mobilization, construction to operation and maintenance, VnExpress reported, citing a senior executive.”
Pre-feasibility study of high-speed railway project submitted to PM – [28/02/19]
“Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The has submitted a pre-feasibility study report for a North-South high speed railway project to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.”
Vietnam revives $58bn high-speed rail project despite cost hurdle – [16/01/19]
“Vietnam has resurrected a high-speed rail project intended to link the country’s north and south, but the fiscal concerns that killed the proposal earlier this decade continue to haunt government efforts to fund the $58 billion plan.”
Bullet train to connect Hanoi with HCMC in five hours – [25/12/18]
“Vietnam’s bullet train will cut travel time between Hanoi and Saigon to five hours from the current 24.
The railway project management board has submitted a pre-feasibility study to the Ministry of Transport, which quotes transport consultants’ estimate that if the train travels at 320 km/h, its running time would be from 5 hours 17 minutes to 6 hours 50 minutes depending on the number of stops.”
North-South express railway to cost over 58.7 billion USD – [14/11/18]
“Vietnam’s first express railway running from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City will cost around 58.7 billion USD, according to a pre-feasibility report announced at the Ministry of Transport’s meeting on November 12.”
Vietnam’s high-speed railway proposal – [19/09/18]
“Total cost estimated at $58.6 billion, with operations to begin in 2030.”
Vietnam sees high-speed train flying high – [16/09/18]
“The Ministry of Transport is working on a feasibility study for the high-speed railway project what would span 1,545 kilometers (960 miles) to connect Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.”
Vietnam plays catch up with high speed rail – [02/09/18]
“Vietnam must be feeling high-speed-rail (HSR) envy as its neighbours move ahead with their respective HSR projects, propelled by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The irony is, Vietnam had already planned for HSR ahead of everyone else, back in 2007.”
Slow roll-out planned for Vietnam high-speed train – [02/04/18]
National Assembly to vote on high-speed train in 2019 – [20/11/17]
“The National Assembly (NA) will decide the fate of a future high-speed railway in Viet Nam in 2019 after the transport ministry completes a project report, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said this week.”
Vietnam revisits $56 billion plan for north-south express railway – [17/10/16]
“The Ministry of Transport is currently working on a feasibility study for an express railway across the country, said Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, which he hopes will be submitted for parliamentary approval by 2018.”
Trans-Vietnam high-speed rail project to be resumed – [14/09/16]
“In 2018 the Ministry of Transport will submit the trans-Vietnam high-speed railway project to the government, and if it is approved, several segments will be put into use before 2030.”
Vietnam revives plan for multi-billion dollar north-south express railway – [04/06/15]
“Five years after lawmakers rejected a costly plan to build a north-south express railway, the transport ministry now wants to bring it back to the table.”
Study for the formulation of high speed railway projects on Hanoi-Vinh and Ho Chi Minh-Nha Trang section [PDF] – [March 2014]
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Vietnam Railways.
Construction of North – South express railway re-proposed – [30/10/13]
“In the reports to the Ministry of Transportation and the Office of Government, the Vietnam Railways Corporation has basically agreed with the recommendations of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on the North-South railway.”
Study for the formulation of high speed railway projects on Hanoi-Vinh and Ho Chi Minh-Nha Trang section [PDF] – [June 2013]
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Vietnam Railways.
Vietnam revamps high-speed train project – [23/08/12]
“An ambitious but costly high-speed railways system connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and other major towns in Vietnam has been modified by the government, trying to cut initial costs of $56 billion to $21.4 billion.”
To be modern, Vietnam needs to build express railway – [24/11/10]
Transport Ministry moves on with two express railways – [30/10/10]
“Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has instructed the Ministry of Transport to set up a steering board to receive Japanese technical assistance for the Hanoi-Vinh and HCM City-Phan Thiet express railway projects.”
National Assembly rejects express railway project – [22/06/10]
“The National Assembly rejected the proposed US$56 billion Hanoi-HCM City express railway project on June 19, the last day of a month-long National Assembly sitting.”
Controversies over North-South express railway project – [25/05/10]
“The National Assembly Standing Committee has approved the North-South express railway project but they still wonder where Vietnam will find the $55 billion needed for this huge project. This project was still a controversy at the 7th National Assembly session, which opened on May 20 in Hanoi. VNNB summarises the development of this project.”
Rail boss: Vietnam to begin high-speed line in 2010 – [23/10/07]
“Vietnam plans to begin building a high-speed railway linking Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 2010, Vietnam’s railway chief said Tuesday at a symposium in Taipei.”
Vietnam to build high-speed rail with Japan aid – [06/02/07]
“Vietnam will build a high speed railway with aid from Japan at an estimated cost of $33 billion, a project that would cut travel time by two-thirds between Hanoi in the north and southern Ho Chi Minh City, the government said.”
The visit to Japan successful: says PM Nguyen Tan Dung – [22/10/06]
“Japan pledged to maintain and increase its official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam to develop socio-economic infrastructure facilities. Top priority will be given to the Trans-national Express Railway Line project, the Trans-national Highway project and a project to develop infrastructure facilities in Hoa Lac High-Tech Zone to attract Japanese investors.”