Country presses the accelerator on rail development

Strengthened international cooperation sees numerous projects launched

By Luo Wangshu | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-16 07:28
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Goods are loaded at Vientiane station on the China-Laos Railway in April. [XING GUANGLI/XINHUA]

Progress made

As the new railway in Indonesia has attracted global attention, the China-Laos Railway has also made notable progress after operating for two years.

The 1,035-km electrified line links Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, with Vientiane, the Laotian capital.

The link has cut travel time between the two cities to 10 hours and 30 minutes, including inspections at customs clearance stations on the Chinese and Laotian borders.

The railway marked its second anniversary on Dec 2. By then, 24.2 million passenger trips had been made on the line, with 3.74 million taking place in the Laotian section. The railway has transported 29.1 million metric tons of cargo, 6 million tons of which were cross-border goods.

Passenger train services between Kunming and Vientiane began on April 13.

Since then, more than 95,000 passengers from 72 countries and regions have used the service to travel between the two cities, and the number of monthly international passenger trips on the route has risen from about 600,000 to 1.1 million.

A World Bank study titled "From Landlocked to Land-Linked: Unlocking the Potential of Lao-China Rail Connectivity" said the China-Laos Railway could raise the aggregate income in Laos by up to 21 percent in the long term.

Transit trade along the line through Laos is estimated to reach 3.9 million tons annually by 2030, which would include moving an estimated 1.5 million tons of goods from ships onto the railway, the study said.

A Beijing woman, who gave her name only as Wang, is considering taking her family on the China-Laos Railway to spend Spring Festival in Laos.

"Traveling with my child and parents, I prefer a destination that is warm and convenient, and which we can visit on a reasonable budget," she said, adding she was also attracted by the lack of a luggage limit on the trains.

A friend of Wang's, who has traveled by train to Luang Prabang, a popular tourist destination in northern Laos, strongly recommended the service to her.

Stuart Hart, a tourist from the United Kingdom visiting Laos, said, "The service is fast, efficient and pleasant." Hart, who lived in Shanghai for two years and has used the service twice, said it is as good as the trains he experienced in China.

Tourists Juliet and Dean O'Reilly, also from the UK, said Vientiane Railway Station is "big and beautiful". The couple traveled from the Laotian capital to Luang Prabang.

Vongthong Somphavath, a Luang Prabang native who works in Vientiane, said: "Before the railway opened, the bus journey between Vientiane and Luang Prabang took an entire day. It is not a pleasant experience sitting on a crowded bus during that time, and the winding mountain road made the trip even worse."

She added that the journey by train only takes about two hours.

"In addition to the speed of the train, the view along the line is much better than that from the bus. There have been some complaints about ticket prices, but the tickets always sell out very quickly," she said.

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