Lao PDR celebrates this year its 40th anniversary under the rule of the Pathet Lao Communist Party. Although most of the celebrations mostly targeted Lao people, one event can however be considered as significant for the international community: during Lao National Day on December 2, a groundbreaking ceremony took place t celebrate the launching of the Laos-China high-speed railway. The future rail will link Vientiane with China and Thailand with possible connections to Malaysia and Singapore.
The ceremony was held at Naxay village of Xaythany district in Vientiane Capital where the main station will be located. The event was important enough to assure the presence of Lao President Choummaly Sayasone, Chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress Zhang Dejiang, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, the President of the National Assembly Pany Yathortou as well as high-ranking officials from Laos and China and foreign diplomats.
Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad who is also the Head of the Laos-China Railway Project Steering Committee said, “Today is the 40th anniversary of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. In this remarkably historic day, we have the great pleasure of organising this groundbreaking ceremony for the project which is the first high-standard rail-route to be built in Southeast Asia.”
He attributed the successful launch of the construction project to the close supervision and substantial support from Lao and China government leaders as well as the close cooperation from concerned parties of the two countries.
The Laos-China Railway will have a length of 427.2 km, from the Laos-China border to Vientiane Capital. The rail will be connected with the new railway bridge spanning the Mekong between Vientiane and Nong Khai Province in Thailand. The speed for passenger trains is set to an average of 160 km/h, while the possibility for trains to ride at 200 km/h between Vang Vieng and Vientiane Capital. Up to 33 stations (21 by-pass stations, 11 passenger stations and 1 main freight station) will be built along the rail line.
Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat said that major construction activities will see the lay-down of 175 km of tracks, the construction of 170 bridges with a total length of 69 km, and the drilling of 72 tunnels with a total length of 183 km. The longest tunnel will be about 9.5 km. Total costs for the project is due to reach an estimated CNY38.7 billion yuan (more than US$6 billion). China will be responsible for 70 per cent of the total investment, while Lao will be responsible for the remainder.
The construction of the project, which will be developed by a Laos-China joint venture, is expected to take about five years for completion.