Business / Industries

Railway to connect China, Thailand

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-09-21 10:45

NANNING - Talking with his business partners, Thai businessman Boonyong drew some lines on a map while elaborating on his envision of trade with China.

The lines are part of a planned railway linking China to Thailand which is scheduled to be completed in three years.

"I am looking forward to a lower transport costs," said Boonyong, who sells rice to China at an annual profit of over 50 million yuan ($7.86 million).

"Currently our products are delivered by road and sea which takes about three and five days respectively," he said. "It will only take us some 18 hours to send rice to China by train, with the freight cost lowered to about one third of that of road or sea transport."

Over 840 kilometers from Kunming in Yunnan province, the railway connects Thailand's Nong Khai province, capital Bangkok and Rayong province.

Construction of the railway will start by the end of this year, said Thai Deputy Prime Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn during the China-ASEAN Expo in the southern Chinese city of Nanning.

In the future, this railway would be an important mode of transport of goods and people between China and Thailand, he told Xinhua.

The vice prime minister said railways can lead to special economic zones. The line between China and Thailand will fuel economic development of Thailand and its neighboring countries.

Chinese cargo can also be more conveniently transferred to other parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe through Thailand, which can help the Chinese companies reduce their transportation cost, he said.

According to Yang Xiuping, secretary-general of the ASEAN-China Center, the railway will help tourism in Southeast Asia. Statistics from China Tourism Academy showed 11 million Chinese tourists travelled to Southeast Asia in 2014. The railway is expected to bring about 2 million more each year.

According to China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, the round-trip fares from Kunming to Bangkok will be around 700 yuan, around half or one third of the airfare, and the freight fees are equivalent to one ninth of the cost by air.

The railway, running through Laos before entering Thailand, is also considered a blessing for Laos.

Khammanh Siphanhxay, researcher with Lao Academy of Social Science, said Laos, with its underdeveloped infrastructure, is in urgent need of railroads.

However, the line will pass through some mountainous areas in Thailand and Laos, which will add difficulties to the construction. However, he said, China has plenty of experience in building railroads in areas with more complicated terrain.

The researcher also said that some areas along the route are underdeveloped, so distribution of the profits will also be an important issue.

The environment will also be a concern for people living along the railway line, he added.

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