Vietnam seeking to learn from China with high-speed rail plan

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam is seeking to learn from China to develop its first high-speed railway network, according to its government, with plans in the works for a rail line running the length of the country.

Vietnam is planning to build a 1,545 km (960 miles) high-speed system with a price tag that could be as much as $72 billion, or 17% of its gross domestic product, according to state media.

“China’s railway industry is the world’s most developed, and Vietnam, therefore, wants to learn from its experiences, especially in terms of technology, financial mobilisation and management expertise,” a government statement at the weekend said.

It was released as Vietnam’s Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung visited to China, where he talked with Chinese trade and transport officials and railway executives.

Vietnam and China signed dozens of cooperation agreements, including on railways, during a visit to Hanoi by Chinese President Xi Jinping in December.

Last year, Vietnam’s government said it had asked Japan for support in building the high-speed railway.

Southeast Asia has so far been slow to adopt high-speed rail, despite plans in place for years by Vietnam, Thailand and others.

Only Laos, Vietnam’s less developed neighbour, has a high-speed system, which was funded by Chinese loans, against the advice of economists who warned the country could be saddled with debt for years.

No timeframe has been announced for the high-speed system in Vietnam and the plan would be submitted to parliament for approval later this year, according to the government.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor, Martin Petty)

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