A steam locomotive after completion and ready for operation. Photo by VnExpress/Dong Duong.
Hoang Quoc Hoi, general director of Indochina Railway Service Co. Ltd, the project investor, said that the steam locomotives have been restored and fully furnished new carriages built. They are now waiting to operate on the national railway route, with a regular schedule expected to begin next year.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong last Thursday approved the operation of steam locomotives on the 36 km railway route from Hue to Da Nang City, a journey expected to take over an hour.
Authorities will work with the project investor on leasing railway infrastructure and prepare an operation plan for the trains.
Most details of the itinerary and other aspects are yet to be decided.
As planned, the two steam locomotives will mainly serve tourists, running daily from Lang Co Station in Thua Thien Hue Province to Da Nang Station. The trains will have VIP seat carriages, restaurants, power generators and kitchens. The French-style carriages have been built by the Di An Railway Factory.
They will run through the Hai Van Pass, said to be part of the most beautiful section on the North-South railway, and use railway bridges and tunnels built by the French.
Hue is Vietnam’s former imperial capital with many UNESCO-recognized heritages, while Da Nang is well-known for its beaches which are among the most beautiful in Southeast Asia.
The interior of the steam locomotive. Photo by VnExpress/Dong Duong.
The steam locomotive and carriages project for tourists has a total investment of over VND80 billion ($3.4 million). The investor purchased the old, 10.5 tons steam locomotives which stopped working in 1990 and restored them. The locomotives have now had 900 horsepower engines, enough to pull five carriages. Investment in the needed equipment was more than VND46 billion ($1.98 million).
The project has also built more waiting rooms, ticket counters, restaurants at the Lang Co and Da Nang stations, as well as side tracks for supplying coal and water for the locomotives.
The carriage for sightseeing at the end of the train. Photo by VnExpress/Dong Duong.
According to a senior official of the Vietnam Railway Corporation, the plan to operate steam locomotives will be prepared carefully in order to cause no disruption in the operation of normal trains on the national railway.
Currently, there are five pairs of Thong Nhat passenger trains and many cargo trains that operate daily on the Lang Co – Da Nang route