China-Laos railway line project has been one of the most observed projects undertaken under the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s ambitious infrastructure program to connect China to Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and has been termed as the most ambitious project the world has ever seen.
The works on the project started on December 25, 2016, under Chia Railway Group which was awarded the construction contract worth 1.2 billion dollars.
A 6 billion dollar high-speed rail line connecting China with its neighbor Laos was keenly followed by many countries especially in South East Asia like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar which are expected to be connected with each other through the same railway line.
The topography of Laos the only landlocked country in South East Asia which is covered by 80% of mountains made undertaking the project attract more attention and renewed interest across the world due to difficulties associated with construction works, 47% of the railway is spanned over 75 tunnels and 15% is set on viaducts spread over 167 bridges which required excellent engineering and its failure would have given a big set back to China’s dream of pan-Asia connectivity and its belt and road initiative.
The high coverage of the China-Laos railway line towards its opening and start of operation by Chinese media only shows how important this project was to China, it was a celebration of success rarely seen in Chinese media given the fact that China has undertaken many other projects which have not received such coverage.
The other importance of the project was seen in a rare joint witness of the opening of the railway line via video link by both the Chinese president Xi Jinping and the president of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith.
The China-Laos railway line is a landmark project of high-quality belt and road initiative meant to convert landlocked country of Laos to land-linked one and is expected to slash the travel time between China’s Kunming to Lao capital Vientiane to about 10 hours.
The electrified passenger and freight railway runs 1,035 km including 422 km in Laos from the city of Kunming, southwest China’s Yunnan Province to Laos capital Vientiane running at a speed of160 km/hr.
During the opening, Chinese president Xi Jinping said that the China-Laos railway is a landmark project of a high-quality Belt and Road Cooperation. In recent years, with the goals of a high standard, sustainability, and improvement of people’s livelihood, China has continuously improved the level of Belt and Road Cooperation, achieved mutual benefits and win-win results for participating countries, and opened up new space for the development of the world economy.
“Today is a proud moment and the dream of all ethnic groups of Laos has finally come true,” Thongloun, the president of Laos said as he expressed gratitude to China for its support. Laos has finally bid farewell to the days without trains and possessed a modern railway.
The Economic Benefits of the China-Laos Railway Line
Thongloun the Laos president said the railway will greatly promote Laos’ national economic and social development, the argument which is supported by World Bank report last year which said the railway could potentially increase aggregate income in Laos by up to 21% over the long term.
The section connecting Vientiane and Boten( at the northern border with China) could provide Laos with a land link to global and regional supply chains, which could make the country more attractive to investors, create new jobs and accelerate economic growth according to the report.
The cost of Transport through Laos is expected to be cut by 30 to 40% as many exporters switch from road to railway according to the Lao national chamber of commerce and industry.
The China-Laos railway will serve as a golden key for Laos to connect with China and other ASIAN countries including Thailand and Malaysia and will serve as an important part of the trans-Asian railway network.
The railway line is also expected to put a positive impact on economic cooperation in China-ASIAN Free Trade Area and the Greater Mekong Subregion.
The Introduction of 5G Network by Huawei Technologies on China-Laos Railway Line
The China-Laos railway line features Huawei Smart Railway Solution, a technology suite that boosts safety and security in all phases from the construction stage to the operational phase.
Huawei has worked with Laotian telecom operators to build a high-speed network along the high-speed line said a press release from the Chinese multinational technology cooperation.
The stable connection it provides will benefit passengers as well as rural residents along the way.
” With 5G coverage available shortly, people will enjoy a stable, high speed and smart connectivity. working on the train and getting in touch with friends and families anytime anywhere will become a possibility.
Thanks to each’s big contributions to this project. Following the opening of this railway, we shall implement One-Belt-One-Road on the digital stage as well” the project manager of Huawei Laos said.
China has engaged 138 countries and 30 international organizations in the BRI providing financing for infrastructure projects like ports, railways, highways, power stations, aviation, and telecommunications, and is projected to boost world GDP by 7.1 trillion dollars per annum by 2040 with flagship projects which include the China-Pakistani Economic Corridor, The Boten-Vientiane railway in Laos and Khorgas land port.