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Laos-China Railway Construction To Begin in December

Source: Vientiane Times

Construction of a historic railway linking Vientiane to the Chinese border over a distance of 427 km is expected to begin in December this year, an official in charge has said.

Agreements with six Chinese construction companies and six consultancy firms will be finalised next month which will pave the way for the start of construction at the end of this year.

Director of the Laos-China Railway construction project and Director of the Lao National Railway Company, Dr Koung Souk-Aloun, told Vientiane Times yesterday “We have already signed an agreement with one Chinese construction company last year.”

“We will sign agreements with the other five Chinese construction companies and consultancy firms next month.”

Meanwhile, the international trade publication Global Construction Review reported that the China Railway Group had won a US$1.2bn contract to build a large section of railway through Laos. The group’s announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last week drew a thumbs up from ratings agency Moody’s, which said the win would help it gain more business traction in Laos.

Three subsidiaries of the group will build sections I, II, and III of the Laos-China railway, which is considered a crucial step in China’s plan for a continuous rail link all the way south to Singapore.

An official ground-breaking ceremony for the almost-US$6- billion project took place in Vientiane in December last year to mark the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

However, more work remains to be done including compensation for those affected by the project and demarcation of the precise route the railway will take.

Dr Koung said compensation payouts to the owners of land and other property on the railway route would be completed this year.

Detailed demarcation of the project corridor for various planned stations was also needed before construction could begin, he said.

When asked which sections of the railway would be built first, Dr Koung said construction of all sections would take place simultaneously.

The planned single track with a 1.435-metre standard- gauge rail network would have 33 stations, of which 21 would be operational initially, according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

There will be 72 tunnels with a total length of 183.9 km, representing 43 percent of the project’s total length. The line will also have 170 bridges of 69.2 km, accounting for 15.8 percent.

Passenger trains will travel at a speed of 160 km per hour, while the speed of rail freight will be 120 km per hour.

The railway in Laos will link with the track in Thailand to form part of the regional rail link known as the Kunming- Singapore railway, covering a total distance of some 3,000km.