Construction of the China-Laos railway officially started in December in the northern Lao city of Luang Prabang.
Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Bounchanh Sinthavong said the development of the railway is of great significance in implementing the resolution of the 10th National Congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) and in boosting Laos’ socio-economy.
The project will help expand and promote Laos-China cooperation in economy, trade, investment and tourism among others, as well as further strengthen economic ties in China-ASEAN free trade area, said the minister.
“Once completed, the railway will benefit Lao people of all ethnic groups, facilitate and reduce costs of transportation, stimulate the development of agricultural and industrial sectors, tourism, investment and trade, as well as generate income for Lao people and the country,” he added.
China aims to complete the long-awaited construction of a US$6.28 billion, high-speed rail project from Yunnan province, China to Laos by 2020 as part of Beijing’s efforts to link itself to Southeast Asian markets.
China will be responsible for 70% of the investment while Laos will be responsible for the rest. Once operational, the railway will Laos’ longest and fastest, with an average speed of 160 kilometers per hour and 60% of the line being bridges and tunnels. It is part of a larger 3,000-kilometer regional railway that will run from Kunming through Laos and Thailand down to Malaysia and Singapore.
On December 28, China put one of the world’s longest high-speed railways into operation, linking the country’s prosperous eastern coast with the less-developed southwest.
The Shanghai-Kunming line — 2,252 km in length — traverses five provinces, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan, and cuts the travel time from Shanghai to Kunming, capital city of Yunnan Province, from 34 to 11 hours, according to China Railway Corporation.