A collision of Ghenh Bridge and a hole in logistic system

(VLR) (Vietnam Logistics Review) It can be said that the collapse of Ghenh Bridge (Dong Nai) after collision with a barge has crippled railway from the north to the south, causing a hundred-of-trillion damage for Vietnam rail transport, excluding damages of people and enterprises. It raised a question that how to avoid this kind of incidents and direct development orientation for railway?

(Vietnam Logistics Review) It can be said that the collapse of Ghenh Bridge (Dong Nai) after collision with a barge has crippled railway from the north to the south, causing a hundred-of-trillion damage for Vietnam rail transport, excluding damages of people and enterprises. It raised a question that how to avoid this kind of incidents and direct development orientation for railway?

A minor incident leading to a severe damage

In terms of economic benefit, after the collision of Ghenh bridge, not only thousands of passengers has been significantly impacted but also goods transport of enterprises would be disrupted, many commodities at some stations would be cornered and delayed shipment schedules etc. This means that many business opportunities would be lost while railway is still the first choice of customers due to bulk cargo shipment, timely delivery and cheaper cost in comparison with other transport means.

According to Mrs. Tran Thi Thu, Head of Song Than station – one of the biggest railway station in the Southern Central region, the collision of Ghenh bridge has crippled the shipment of goods from Di An to sai Gon and Song Than station has stopped receiving goods shipped to the Central and the North Vietnam. On average, Song Than station can load and unload for about 8 trains with 160 carriages of goods per day (averagely one carriage contains 25 tons), hence it will cause tremendous impacts for the station if it takes at least 3 – 5 months to fix this bridge.

To solve difficulties of enterprises and release goods, Ministry of Transportation has positively participated to direct in order to enhance unloading capacity at different stations in Bien Hoa. However, this is only a temporary solution, because the station capacity is limited and this will increase costs of enterprises. For example, Ho Nai station that can only unload approximately 1,400 tons per day, but after the bridge collapse, have to deal with additional goods from Song
Than station in Binh Duong and Hoa Hung station in Ho Chi Minh city, estimating about 5,000 tons per day.

Some enterprises stated that changing unloading location has increased the cost up to 30 – 40%, and leading to a series of disadvantages like long distance, traffic jam, cramped-space stations, pressed prices from car owners etc. Therefore, passengers would be affected by goods and delays of material transport.

Up to date, there is no statistical data of damages after the bridge collision, however, only repairing cost has been up to 300 billion VND. Therefore, it indicates that only minor mistake of traffic participants in general and specifically in waterway, can cause severe negative impacts to the arterial railway from the North to the South.

So that, the question raised here is that how to manage strictly transport means; alternative solutions to protect key positions and troubleshooting plans to minimize damages for enterprises and citizens. Furthermore, it is necessary to create favorable conditions for investment and maintenance of general logistic system and specific logistic rail system to satisfy all demands of economy.

Which solutions for rail transportation

If evaluating objectively, in Vietnam’s transport system, railway had developed for a very long time. When the French first invaded Vietnam, they had used advantages of railway to transport goods from mines to the ports. After 1945, railway continued performing their role, however, because of a growth of road and transport means along with a slow innovation and limitation in management and serving manner, railway lost its position. Quantity of goods and passengers using rail was only 20%.

Under management of Minister Dinh La Thang, railway has gradually return to its role to join the fair competition. Particularly, when the policy tightened road tonnage, many enterprises started to consider and use rail as a major transport modal. In the period from 2011 to 2015, many projects investing in railway also kicked off with the budget of hundreds trillions VND, notably the proposal to build the parallel rail line lengthening 1,435m in North- South axis at speed of 160 – 200 km/h, allowing both passenger trains and freight cars to use. Similarly, there were also several railway projects connecting between Vietnam China or Vietnam and other ASEAN countries.

Despite of many advantages, such as having large transport capacity, fast and punctual delivery, stability, safe and suitability for the most commodities, cheaper cost etc., the Transportation sector only reached the limited portion of objectives. Up to 2020, rail transport strive to supply about 1 – 3% market share in freight transport, increase train speed to 80- 90 km/h for passenger trains and 50- 60 km/h for freight trains, and up to 2050, railways would supply at least 5 - 6% market of goods transport and operate high-speed rails after 2050.

Generally, from logistics angle, a panorama of rail transport has many grey spots, especially under circumstance of limitation of human resources. Therefore, it is still a big challenge to connect between roads, railways and industrial zones or big seaports, or enhance internal capacity in urban areas.

Talking back to the broken Ghenh bridge crippling the rail line with about 50 km in length from the North to the South, it can see that there are many things required an action to develop railway become competitive motivation in goods transport, partly contributing to social- economic development. In consideration, this is time for us to construct a better overall project, based on our existing capacity, for railway sector to promote its advantages.

Some opinions stated that an improvement of competitive capacity of rail transport is not so difficult to achieve, however, it is more important that whether the policies of government can be attractive enough to investors or not? Immediately, at this time, we need to construct big railway stations at key hubs, form connection with big industrial zones and seaports etc. on large areas integrated different functions like warehouses, modern loading facilities, scientific and technological transfers in management and operation. For long-term development, we will need to invest in high-speed rail system with 1,435m in length along North- South axis and apply investment models like BOT road project.

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