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China-Laos rail link boosts the flow of people, goods

By LI HONGYANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-06-04 08:35
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Rail employees serve passengers in May aboard a high-speed train connecting China and Laos. HAN JIALING/XINHUA

The China-Laos Railway has seen a surge in passenger and cargo numbers since its launch in December, enriching the supply of goods to both sides and enabling people along the line to seek education, visit families, see a doctor and go sightseeing, according to China State Railway Group.

As of Thursday, the cross-border railway handled more than 3.2 million passenger trips, among which 2.8 million departed from China and about 410,000 left from Laos.

The 1,035-kilometer line runs between Kunming, the capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province, and Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The trip takes about 10 hours, with speeds reaching up to 200 kilometers per hour.

It is the first cross-border railway project that is mainly invested in and constructed and operated by China and linked to China's domestic rail system.

Zhang Yongze, a duty manager at the Kunming Station, said that train schedules have been adjusted to meet demand along the line.

"To cater to the needs of people from Yunnan province's Yuxi, Puer and Xishuangbanna, the train schedule changes every day," she said.

She said the top number of passengers on the line's China section was about 33,000 in a single day, while the number for the Laos section was about 5,000.

Over the past six months, China State Railway Group has added trains in major cities in the Laos section for Lao to travel between Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang.

"The number of tourists within the country increased, boosting its tourism economy along the railway," the group said.

The line has reduced the transportation time and costs for international logistics channels between China and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the group said.

Since December, the railway has transported 4.03 million metric tons of goods, including 647,000 tons of cross-border goods such as electronics, photovoltaic items and fruit. The railway's freight trains help to shuttle the cargo between 21 provinces and cities in China and countries including Laos and Thailand.

In April, for example, the railway helped transport about 500 tons of durian fruit from Thailand to China. Transportation took about seven days, or around half the time it took to transport by the former method, which combined highway and sea transportation, according to China Kunming Railway Group.

"The launch of the railway has not only promoted economic development along the route, but also accelerated the construction of the China-Laos Economic Corridor and the community of a shared future between the two sides," Ma Yong, head of the Institute of Southeast Asian studies of the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua News Agency.

Since the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement took effect in January, the destinations of international freight via the China-Laos Railway have been expanded to more countries and regions, including Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia, according to Xinhua.

China State Railway Group said it will promote an internet ticketing system and a digitized transportation and production process for the line's operation. It will also continue construction of Vientiane's south freight transfer station.

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