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Vietnam Says No to Proposal to Import 37 Used Train Cars From Japan

Even though the plan to repurpose secondhand trains from Japan might be cost-effective, state officials deem them too old to be imported.

As Tuoi Tre reports, the Government Office recently issued an official verdict on a previous proposal by the Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR) to receive 37 old train cars from Japan. Deputy Prime Minister Lê Văn Thành did not approve the plan after reviewing reports by the Ministry of Transport, citing Decree 65 regarding Railway Law.

According to the ministry, the 37 railway cars are unsuitable for import in accordance with the decree as they were manufactured over 10 years ago and are not allowed to operate as they’ve had over 40 years of usage.

The ministry added that VNR did not provide sufficient assessment on the plan’s technical safety, return of investment, condition report and other operational issues.

In October, VNR submitted a proposal to import 37 passenger cars of the KiHa 40 and KiHa 48 series produced in 1979–1982 by Japanese railway company JR East. They are air-conditioned and can run at a maximum speed of 95 km/h, carrying 100–120 guests. The models have been withdrawn in Japan.

Technology-wise, the Kiha cars are diesel multiple units (DMU), each capable of running by itself without requiring a separate locomotive. Even with their seniority, they would still be the most advanced railway technology in Vietnam’s network had the proposal been greenlit. Many KiHa cars were imported by Myanmar in the past and are operating on the Yangon Circular Railway.

JR East was reportedly receptive of the proposal and offered them for free; VNR would foot the bill for importing and renovation efforts. VNR President Vũ Anh Minh said in October that new passenger cars are VND30 billion each, so the company was hoping to save money as renovating the old vehicles would cost only VND140 billion for all 37.

[Photo: A KiHa 48-1535 of JR East running between Iragawa and Atsumionsen/David Gubler via Rail Pictures]

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