Lao-China New Rail Looks at Welcoming 4 Million Travellers in First Year

Domestic passengers commuting through the planned Laos-China railway project are expected to reach 3.98 million annually in its first year, it was revealed by State Laotian newspaper “Vientiane Times”. The daily referred to numbers provided by a study which forecasts that the first year of full operation -expected in 2022- would translate into approximately four million commuters. The number would then rise to 6.11 million annually and jump further to 8.62 million annually over the longer-term, Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad said recently.

Passengers commuting from Vientiane to the Chinese border via the railway would be charged only about 161,850 kip (US$20), much cheaper than fares by road, which are currently priced at 283,000 kip (US$35), Mr Somsavat told the recent ordinary session of the National Assembly.

The Lao and Chinese governments broke ground on December 2 in Vientiane to commence construction of the US$6.04 billion project which will connect Vientiane with the Chinese border over the distance of 427 km. Construction is expected to take about five years to complete.

The project is part of the regional railway network connecting China’s Kunming to Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia. The study indicates that total  passengers of the five countries commuting through the regional railway is expected to reach 9.65 million annually in its first year, then  11.98 million passengers a year in the medium-term and increase further to 16.5 million passengers annually over the long-term.

Mr Somsavat, who is in charge of the project, told the parliament that rail transport offering cheaper costs with faster speed would enable Laos to enjoy advantages in promoting trade and investment.