The Thap Cham-Da Lat train. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Thap Cham-Da Lat train. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

A Vietnamese railway line dating back to French colonial days is to be restored and put back into service.

Vice chairman of Ninh Thuan Province Tran Quoc Nam said a private investor was collaborating with the province to restore the Thap Cham-Da Lat Railway, VN Express reported. The railway will run from Ninh Thaun’s Champa Kingdom to the city of Da Lat, sometimes known as “Little Paris”.

At a meeting with Transport Ministry officials on October 9, Tran said the project will commence in 2020, and is expected to take ten years to complete.

The transport ministry fully endorses the plan and expects the railway to boost tourism and the local economy in the area, said minister Nguyen Van The.

For a long time, Vietnam’s railways have been consistently neglected by officials, who have paid much more attention to the aviation and automobile sectors. However, the government has recently stepped up its efforts to promote the lagging railway sector, and in August 2015, a plan to develop railway systems was approved.

Increasing train speeds and working on dual gauge tracks are some of the targets of the development plan. According to official statistics, users of railways in Vietnam have been decreasing steadily, with only 9.4 million passengers served in 2017.

The Thap Cham-Da Lat Railway, built by the French between 1908 to 1932, is 84 kilometers long and was abandoned after the last of the French troops withdrew from the country in 1954.

Although it was gradually dismantled after North Vietnam’s victory in 1975, a 7km section of the line between Da Lat station and Trai Mat village was preserved in 1990 and returned to active use as a tourist attraction.