North–South Railway (Vietnam: Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City)

The North–South railway (Vietnamese: Đường sắt Bắc–Nam, French: Chemin de fer Nord-Sud) is the principal railway line serving the country of Vietnam. It is a single-track metre gauge line connecting the capital Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City in the south, for a total length of 1,726 km (1,072 mi). Trains travelling this line are sometimes referred to as the Reunification Express (referring to the Reunification of Vietnam), although no particular train carries this name officially. The line was established during French colonial rule, and was completed over a period of nearly forty years, from 1899 to 1936. As of 2005, there were 278 stations on the Vietnamese railway network,[3] of which 191 were located along the North–South line.

From World War II through to the Vietnam War, the entire North–South railway sustained major damage from bombings and sabotage.[5] Owing to this damage, and to a subsequent lack of capital investment and maintenance, much of the infrastructure along the North–South railway remains outdated or in poor condition; in turn, lack of infrastructure development has been found to be a root cause for railway accidents along the line, including collisions at level crossings and derailments. Recent rehabilitation projects, supported by official development assistance, have improved the safety and efficiency of the line. As of 2007, 85% of the network’s passenger volume and 60% of its cargo volume was transported along the line. The national railway company Vietnam Railways owns and operates the line.

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