The north-south high-speed railway should be seized as an opportunity for the country’s manufacturing sector and labor, a senior official says.
Nguyen Duc Kien, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly’s Economic Committee, said railway parts for the project should be ordered from local manufacturing firms instead of importing everything.
“After reviewing official development assistance (ODA) projects, we think that what can be done by Vietnamese should be done by Vietnamese. We don’t want foreigners to be the main contractor and Vietnamese to be subcontractors all the time,” Kien told a meeting held late last week in Hanoi.
Echoing Kien, Do Duc Tuan from the Hanoi-based University of Transport said that Vietnam should upgrade two railway manufacturing facilities in the north and south to produce parts for the high-speed railway.
At the meeting, the consultancy consortium comprising firms TEDI, TRICC and TEDIS said that by 2030, the high-speed railway project would need a 5,100-strong workforce to operate it. An additional 7,600 people would be required by 2040.
The consortium proposed that a training academy be established five to seven years before 2030.
Experts at the meeting agreed with the idea of training people, but expressed concerns that a new academy would add to the project’s financial burden.
Kien said that the high-speed railway was not merely a transportation project but an opportunity to improve Vietnamese technical capabilities and boost the local economy.
He noted current training facilities in the country were adequate to train people; no new academy was needed.
“The consultancy consortium should do more research to find out what the training costs are and use existing facilities in current universities for training.”
“A new academy would add more to the budget, and would not be supported by the people,” Kien added.
He proposed that training should start in 2019 so that by 2027, the country would have a group of Vietnamese specialists capable of overseeing, managing the project and training more people.
“With a local staff, we wouldn’t have to hire foreign specialists with salaries of $10,000 per month,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong also said that the consultancy consortium should carry out more research to evaluate local training and manufacturing facilities.
The north-south high-speed railroad was recently revived after being rejected by the National Assembly in 2010 due to its $56-billion price tag, which was half of Vietnam’s GDP then.
It is now expected to cost $58 billion, according to a feasibility report released in August.
The consortium has said that the project will use the distributed traction technology used by Japanese high-speed trains.
Two sections – from Hanoi to the central city of Vinh and from the central city of Nha Trang to HCMC – will be built first in 2020-2030 at a cost of $24 billion, with commercial operations likely to begin in 2032.
All sections are expected to be completed and operational by 2040-2045. Once complete, transport time from Hanoi to HCMC will be shortened to eight from the current 24 hours.