Home The North-South Railway in Vietnam

The North-South Railway in Vietnam

The North-South Railway is the longest railway line in Vietnam. It runs from north to south, connecting Hanoi, the capital of the country, with Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam’s largest city.

TIt is a meter gauge line with an average speed of 50 km per hour. The journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) takes more than 30 hours.

The North-South Railway is the most important line in Vietnam, in terms of both passenger and freight transport. It carries more than 80% of the total passenger volume in the country.

History of the North-South Railway

The North-South Railway was built by the French during the colonial period. The first section was built in 1899 and the whole railway was completed in 1936, construction lasting 37 years in total.

In nine years after 1945,there was no maintenance or upgrading of the line due to wars, and it was divided into two parts.

During the Vietnam War (1955-1975), some parts of the railway were damaged. Not until after the war were they restored. The whole line was reopened at the end of 1976.

Current Situation

The North-South Railway uses meter gauge. The speed of trains running on meter gauge is slower than that on standard tracks. The average speed on the North-South Railway is 50 km/h (31 miles per hour).

Due to lack of capital investment, Vietnam’s railways are lagging behind in terms of facilities, transportation capacity, and speed. They have not been able to keep up with the speed of other development in the country.

Compared to domestic flights, trains in Vietnam are not particularly attractive, in terms of speed or price. But taking a train is a good way of experiencing local lifestyle and mingling with local people. And because the North-South Railway was built along the coast, several sections of the line offer beautiful scenery.

The Future of the North-South Railway

Vietnam plans to improve the North-South Railway, by building a high-speed railway line between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It will be a new electrified railway with a total length of 1570 kilometers, and 1435 mm track gauge. The maximum speed is expected to reach 300 km/h (186 miles per hour).

The Hanoi–Ho Chi Minh City High-Speed Railway is expected to begin operations in 2020. After the line opens, the train travel time from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City will be reduced from 34 hours to 6 hours.

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