The Ministry of Transport has given the nod to a project by Viet Nam Railways to boost the carrying capacity of freight trains travelling to and from Hai Phong Port.
Additional freight transport between Hai Phong and Yen Vien Station in Ha Noi and Lao Cai Station in the northeastern province of Lao Cai would ease traffic congestion on national highways 5 and 70, officials said.
Viet Nam Railways plans to invest in boosting the amount of cargo carried by trains on these routes in 2012 to 2013.
"In the second phase 2014-15, VR (Viet Nam Railways) will continue to find ways to boost rail freight on other rail routes," deputy minister of transport Le Manh Hung said.
Meanwhile, the rail link between Ha Noi and Cai Lan Port in northeastern Quang Ninh Province is scheduled for completion in 2012. Until then, Hai Phong remains the only port connected to the national rail system.
Hai Phong is the biggest container port in the north. In the last 10 years, the port's capacity has increased from 200,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) in 2000 to 1 million TEU in 2010. This year the port is expected to have handled 1.2 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU), an average of 3,300 TEU a day.
According to VR, daily, about 1,000 container lorries ply National Highway 5, which connects Hai Phong to Ha Noi, accounting for 30 per cent of total road transportation.
Dam Xuan Luy, director of Hai Phong City's Department of Transport, said some of the lorries using National Highway 5 had a capacity of 80 tonnes.
Meanwhile, on Highway 70, from Yen Bai to Lao Cai, about 1,000 lorries of 30-plus tonnes travel daily.
Tran Duy Luan, general director of the Viet Nam Railway Freight Transportation Company, said container transport through Hai Phong Station at the moment was still modest at 50 TEUs a day and that it could handle 100 times more.
He said one container train could carry 32 TEUs if it had 10 carriages for two 20-foot containers and six carriages for 40-foot containers – equivalent to about 20 container lorries.
"So some 330 TEUs transported by rail each day could replace 200 trucks running on the highway," Luan said.
However, Luan said freight carried by train still had to be transported to its destination, whether a warehouse or a supermarket. Nguyen Huu Tuyen, head of VR's Transport Sales Department, said the project would also reduce the number of traffic accidents and reduce pollution. This form of transport would also be cheaper, he added.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Manh Hung, chairman of the Viet Nam Automobile Transportation Association, applauded the move. He said the move should be embraced by all road users, as well as local residents and businesses.