Railway projects will be completed worldwide in 2021

Seetao 2021-03-22 18:47
  • The Bowen-Vientiane Railway is another part of China’s broader One Belt One Road initiative to improve trade routes
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It is expected that some eye-catching railway projects will be realized and completed worldwide in 2021. These include the long-delayed Crossrail line in the United Kingdom, the Ho Chi Minh Line 1 in Vietnam, the Lagos-Ibadan Railway in Nigeria, and so on. We gave an overview of these projects and assessed their progress.

Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Metro Line 1

Ho Chi Minh City's Line 1 will be completed by the end of 2021. The 19.7-kilometer route will connect Ben Thanh in District 1 and Suoi Tien Amusement Park in District 9, serving 14 stations.

The project was originally scheduled to start in 2008, but funding problems caused delays. Finally, construction began in 2012, four years later. By 2040, the network is expected to be used by 800,000 people every day. This line is part of a wider planned railway network, which includes a total of 7 lines. In 2020, the construction of Line 2 will begin and it is expected to be completed in 2024.

Lagos-Ibadan Railway Line, Nigeria

The 156-kilometer Lagos-Ibadan railway line has officially started operation in January 2021. The initial journey was completed in about two hours and 40 minutes, and hopefully it can be reduced to two hours in the end. This is the first double-track standard gauge railway in West Africa.

Continuing to implement the themes of many railway projects in this list, construction has also suffered delays. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation won the engineering contract in 2012, but the groundbreaking ceremony was not held until March 2017.

In addition, the heavy rainfall in the first quarter of 2018 temporarily stopped the construction. Then, the 2020 Covid-19 restriction measures further slowed the progress by reducing the number of construction workers allowed on site. The authorities hope that this line will lead to an increase in rail freight to reduce road congestion and save a lot of truck infrastructure.

The $1.6 billion section is part of the Lagos-Kano railway, and the 187-kilometer section from Abuja to Kaduna was completed in July 2016.

Crossrail, UK

Construction of Crossrail began in 2009 and was originally scheduled to be completed in 2018. The project has been plagued by delays, and the global pandemic is expected to further delay its completion.

Long-distance routes from Reading to Heathrow Airport and Paddington Station and from Shenfield to Abbeywood are already in operation. However, the most important part of the entire central London is not expected to be completed until 2022. However, given the project’s history of setbacks, the project cannot yet completely rule out further delays.

From Reading to Shenfield in central London, this complete line will eventually run 117 kilometers, and its branches will extend to Heathrow Airport.

Riyadh Metro, Saudi Arabia

The Metro in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, will be partially opened in 2021 after the original schedule for 2019 was postponed. The subway project cost 22.5 billion U.S. dollars and consists of 6 lines with a total length of 176 kilometers and a total of 85 stations. Additional capacity is needed to serve a population that is expected to grow by 2.5 million people in the next ten years.

Alstom’s trains will run on three subway lines, Siemens’ trains will run on two routes, and Bombardier’s railway vehicles will run on one line. This will be Saudi Arabia's second subway line after the Mecca Metro started operating in 2010.

Laos Botten-Vientiane Railway

The Boten-Vientiane Railway in Laos will open in December 2021. This line will extend 414 kilometers between the town of Ostrobothnia on the Chinese border and Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Construction started in December 2016.

For trains equipped with electrified overhead lines, the passenger service speed will reach 160 km/h, and the freight speed will reach 120 km/h. This route will serve 32 stations, passing through 75 tunnels and 167 bridges.

The project is estimated to cost US$6 billion, most of which was borrowed from China through various arrangements. Some people worry that this will make Laos unable to repay the money. This is the so-called "Chinese debt trap."

The Bowen-Vientiane Railway is another part of China’s broader “Belt and Road” initiative to improve trade routes and plans to build a Trans-Asian Railway that will eventually pass through Yunnan to Singapore, via Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia 5500 kilometers.

Jakarta-Bandung High Speed Rail, Indonesia

Despite the pandemic, Indonesia's high-speed railways have made considerable progress in 2020, and have completed 60% by the end of the year. The project may be close to completion by the end of 2021.

The 142.3-kilometer route will extend from the capital Jakarta to Bandung in West Java. The project began in 2016 with China, which provided arrangements for a large amount of US$5.5 billion. This is after the fierce bidding war between China and Japan.

In January, the authorities announced the connection of the track laying base to Indonesia’s existing railway network. Once completed, the speed of passenger service will reach 350 km/h. This will reduce the travel time of the route from the current three hours to less than 40 minutes.

Indian Railways, multiple projects

In terms of the number of completed railway projects, it will be very difficult to reach India's 2021 record. The country announced that 49 railway projects will be completed by 2021 and another seven projects will be completed in the first three months of 2022. The project will include tracking doubling, gauge conversion and electrification.

One of the biggest projects is the doubling and electrification of this line by the Southern Central Railway Company, which includes Vijayawada-Guadivada-Bihivaram-Narsabur and Guadidada-Marica Putnam. So far, 124 kilometers have been completed, and the rest of the 221 kilometers route will also be completed in July.

Prior to this, the 225-kilometer Daund-Gulburga circuit will double at the end of June. The doubling of the 283-kilometer Bina-Kota line is expected to be completed in December.

Tampere Light Rail

From the city center to Tampere University Hospital (TAYS) and Helfanta, the first phase of the 16-kilometer Tampere light rail line will be completed in 2021. The second phase will be connected with Lielahti and Lentävänniemi and is expected to be completed in 2025. Skoda-made articulated trams will operate on this line and can accommodate up to 264 passengers.

Since 2001, light rail feasibility studies have been conducted in Tampere. The plan was finally approved by the Tampere City Council in November 2016.

The project is expected to cost 330 million euros. Once completed, the light rail line is expected to generate an annual profit of 10 million euros. This is in contrast to the bus transportation system in the region, which loses 10 million euros per year.

Green Line Extension in Massachusetts, U.S.

The Green Line expansion in Massachusetts is easily the shortest rail project on the list, but the distance to cost ratio is the highest. Although the light rail may only run 4.3 miles, it is estimated to cost $2.28 billion.

It is the northwest extension of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line, extending to the Boston suburbs of Somerville and Medford. It will serve seven stations.

The project has been plagued by delays and cost disputes. The plan began in 2006 and was originally scheduled to be completed in 2014. However, construction did not really start until 2012. But when the estimated cost surged to $3.3 billion in 2015, the project was suspended.

The plan was revised and finally progress was made. Now, the new line is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. It is estimated that by 2030, 45,000 people will travel on this line every day.Editor/Huang Lijun