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Vientiane-Vung Ang Railway To Cost More Than US$5 billion

Source: Vientiane Times

More than US$5 billion is needed to build a railway linking Vientiane to a seaport in Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province, Vietnamese media reported on Friday, citing study results.

The findings were arrived at as part of a technical support project for a feasibility study of the railway.

The Vientiane-Thakhaek-Vung Ang railway has a planned length of 554.72km, with 102.7km of the track to be in Vietnam, running from the Vung Ang seaport in central Ha Tinh province to the Lao border at the Mu Gia mountain pass in central Quang Binh province.

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), which funded the technical support project, estimated that Vietnam would need more than US$1.5 billion to build the section of railway passing through its territory.

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The study results were given to Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport on May 3, according to the Vietnam Plus website.

A source at Laos’ Ministry of Public Works and Transport said the findings would be submitted to the government to seek guidance on further steps to progress the project, including possible sources of finance.

Government spokesman Prof. Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher said the cabinet had not yet received the study results.

The cabinet has also not yet held detailed discussions on possible sources of financing for construction of the railway.

“The two governments plan to build the railway, but discussions on the details of financing have not taken place,” the spokesman told Vientiane Times.

The railway and an expressway are part of the cooperation framework between Laos and Vietnam until 2030, Dr Chaleun said, referring to the planned Vientiane-Hanoi Expressway linking the two countries’ capitals.

The railway will enable landlocked Laos to access sea trade routes via the Vung Ang seaport, which the Lao and Vietnamese governments have agreed to jointly develop.

The Vientiane-Thakhaek-Vung Ang railway is a key infrastructure project within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which would connect Laos and Vietnam and also intersects with the Singapore-Kunming (China) regional railway.

As of March, construction of the US$5.986 billion Laos-China railway, which is part of the Singapore-Kunming railway, was 26.5 percent complete.

The Lao government has announced an ambitious plan to build an extensive railway network in an attempt to convert Laos from being landlocked to a land link within the region.

Other projects in the plan include the Thakhaek-Savannakhet-Pakxe-Vangtao railway linking

Khammuan province to the Thai border at Vangtao through central and southern provinces of Laos, as well as the Pakxe-Veunkham railway linking Champassak province with the Cambodian border.

The government has given the green light to a Malaysian company to build the Savannakhet-Lao Bao railway linking Savannakhet province to the Vietnamese border.