Vietnam Reunification Express


Early tomorrow morning I take the Reunification Express from Hanoi to Huế. Construction of the Reunification Express rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) began in 1899 and ended in 1936. French colonists built the Hanoi to Saigon Railway as part of a network in French Indochina, but for most of this century Vietnam train service was out of action due to various wars.

“In 1975 the re-establishment of the rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City became a critical project as a symbol of unity for all Vietnamese, hence the name Reunification Express. The entire train trip from Hanoi to Saigon takes about 30 hours and it’s much more than just a rail journey. The railway passes through about 21 provinces, the South China Sea coastline, and several beautiful landscapes including Hai Van Pass, Lanco Peninsula, and Van Phong Bay.

In 1954, following the signing of the Geneva Accords, Vietnam was temporarily divided into two parts – the communist North and the anti-communist South. Officials bisected the railway half way at Hien Luong Bridge. During the Vietnam War, the railway was a constant target of bombardments and explosions by both North and South Vietnam.”

After Saigon fell on April 30, 1975, Vietnam was united, as was the railway. On December 31, 1976, the war-torn railway was fully restored and put into operation again. The following are major stations on the North-South Railway from Hanoi to Saigon.  I will stop for a few days in Huế, Danang, and Nha Trang and arrive in Saigon on January 15th.  The longest ride is between Hanoi and Huế – 12+ hours:

  • Hanoi
  • Phu Ly
  • Nam Dinh
  • Thanh Hoa
  • Vinh
  • Dong Hoi
  • Dong Ha
  • Huế
  • Da Nang
  • Tam Ky
  • Quang Ngai
  • Dieu Tri
  • Tuy Hoa
  • Nha Trang
  • Muong Man
  • Saigon

In 2002 Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai approved a “Master Plan” for Vietnam’s Railway system development towards 2020. A large part of the capital required to improve Vietnam’s railway is a loan from Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA). The estimated investment capital for the project is US $32,000 million. Japanese companies receive priority as contractors for the project. Japan sent a research commission to Vietnam to conduct topographical and geographical surveys. The high-speed Japanese Shinkansen Express “bullet train” is a suggested model for the new railway in Vietnam.

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