Laos is to have its first high-speed rail link after a contract was signed yesterday to lay tracks between Savannakhet province and the Vietnam border.
It is estimated that the US$5 billion project, to be financed by a Malaysian company, will be completed in five years, at which point Savannakhet will have a direct rail link to Lao Bao on the Laos-Vietnam border. The project will form part of a planned railway that will eventually link most of Southeast Asia.
A signing ceremony for the construction and development of the railway project took place at the National Convention Centre in Vientiane, before the start of the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit. Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak were there to witness the signing. Also attending the signing ceremony was Minister of Planning and Investment Mr Somdy Douangdy, Governor of Savannakhet province Mr Souphanh Keomixay, and Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport Mr Lattanamany Khounnivong.
The construction of the 220km track is being undertaken by Malaysian company Giant Consolidated Limited, so President of the group Mr Mohammad Fadzwi Bin Hamidun, committee member Dr Tock Min Kin and a representative from the concession company Dr Yuhao Aixinjueluo were also present. “We expect that the project will begin soon,” said Deputy Director General of the Lao Railway Authority of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Mr Sonesack N. Nhansana.
Savannakhet province is located on the East-West Corridor linking Thailand, Laos and Vietnam via the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge across the Mekong, and Road No. 9. It is also located on the north-south arterial route Road No. 13, which runs through Laos, from China to Cambodia.
When the entire planned rail link is completed, it will provide a non-stop connection to Singapore, through Thailand and Malaysia, into Kunming province, China, and through Vietnam. At the moment, public transport on this route is confined to the 15 bus stations situated between Savannakhet province and the Laos-Vietnam border, which run through Phin, Xepon and Nong districts and the Savan-Seno Economic Special Zone.
Thailand is expected to be next to get on board with a similar project in the near future.
Published with the permission of Vientiane Times