Thailand and Laos have a track linking the two countries at the Friendship Bridge in the capital Vientiane and Nong Khai. (File photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
Construction a joint Lao-Chinese railway project has begun after the two governments kicked off the project in a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday.
The nations used the Lao National Day on Dec 2 to launch the long-delayed project, which will take about five years to complete, the Vientiane Times reported on Thursday.
Choummaly Sayasorn, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party leader and national president, and Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress, chaired the ceremony in Vientiane.
The two countries will build a single-track line on the 1.435-metre gauge from the Lao-Chinese border at Boten in Laos’ Luang Namtha province to the Lao border with Thailand between Vientiane and Nong Khai.
The train line covers 427 kilometres will be run by electric locomotives at the speed of 160 kilometres per hour for passenger trains and 120km/h for freighters.
Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad, who is in charge of the project, said in the ceremony that the project cost was 38.7 billion yuan (216 billion baht).
Earlier reports by the Vientiane Times said the two governments will each meet 40% of the cost and the rest be borne by their state enterprises.
The Lao-Chinese project was approved by Vientiane in 2012 and the launch had been delayed by lengthy negotiations between the two countries on loan conditions offered by Beijing.
Thailand plans a ground-breaking ceremony on the Thai-Chinese railway development project on Dec 19 at a train control centre at Chiang Rak Noi station in Pathum Thani but construction will not begin the bidding process completes.