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Significant risks that trigger cost overruns and delays in urban rail projects: a typical case study of Vietnam

Tiep Nguyen (School of Civil Engineering and Management, International University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) (Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Nicholas Chileshe (UniSA STEM, Sustainable Infrastructure and Resources Management (SIRM), University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia) (Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Duc Ty Ho (Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Viet Thanh Nguyen (Faculty of Civil Engineering, Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Quang Phu Tran (Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Article publication date: 14 February 2024

Issue publication date: 14 March 2024




Urban rail projects are typically large-scale transport infrastructure projects (megaprojects) which have many potential risks that can influence the strategic goals of owners. However, there is a paucity of studies which explore the impact of risks on both “urban rail” project time and cost together considering quantitative assessments. Therefore, this paper focuses on investigating critical risks and quantifying such risk impacts on urban railway project schedule and cost in practice.


A combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods comprising semi-interviews with five experts and a questionnaire survey of 132 professional respondents is used. The data were modeled using Monte Carlo Simulation to predict the probability of project schedule and cost.


The results show that 30 risk variables are categorized into seven main groups which have significant impacts on both project time and cost. Outstanding five risk variables were highlighted as follows: (1) project site clearance and land compensation; (2) design changes; (3) physical project resources; (4) contractors’ competencies and (5) project finance. Such findings were supported by Monte Carlo simulation which predicted in the worst case that the project may suffer 11.03 months’ delays and have cost overrun with a contingency of US$287.68 million.


This study expands our knowledge about time and cost contingency of urban metro railway implementation across developing economies and particularly within the context of Vietnam. Policymakers will not only gain an understanding about risk structure but will also recognize the significant impacts of critical risk through risk impact modeling and simulation. Such an approach provides insights into risk treatment priorities for planners so that they can proactively establish suitable strategies for risk mitigation in practice.



Nguyen, T., Chileshe, N., Ho, D.T., Nguyen, V.T. and Tran, Q.P. (2024), "Significant risks that trigger cost overruns and delays in urban rail projects: a typical case study of Vietnam", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 278-295.



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