Vietnam: Road transport preferred over railways in cross border exports

Because it lacks a comprehensive logistics package, Vietnam's railways sector has failed to attract cross-border business. Nguyen Dinh Tung is the CEO of HCMC-based fruit exporter Vina T&T. This week he stated that the company prefers road transport over railways in delivering goods across the border because the former is more convenient and ensures product quality.

To deliver a container from the southern province of Long An, where many fruit varieties are grown, to China using the railway, the company would have to use a truck to move it to the Song Than Railway Station in the southern Binh Duong Province. The train will then carry the container to the Dong Dang Railway Station in Lang Son Province, from where it has to be taken across the border to China by another truck. These transitions between different types of transport make it difficult to maintain the right temperature inside the container and this could damage the fruits, he said.

Therefore, his company chooses to transfer the containers directly from Long An to China using container trucks, he added. Other exporters mentioned similar challenges. Hoang Van Hoan, CEO of Hanoi-based TMS Trading, said during the harvest season his company sometimes needs to export 300 containers of fruits a day, but cannot deliver all of them because enough trucks are not available.

Transporting the containers by train costs 50 percent less than by road, but the company still needs to use trucks to deliver the containers to and from railway stations, he said. Vietnam currently has over 3,000 kilometers of railway tracks, none of them high-speed. In the first eight months, railways accounted for 0.3 percent of total cargo transport, compared to 76.4 percent on roads, according to the General Statistics Office.


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