The first passenger train to run on the Laos-China railway, which is scheduled to open on December 2, is expected to arrive in Vientiane on Friday.
The Prime Minister’s Office on Monday issued a notice that named the historic passenger train ‘Lane Xang’ – Laos’ former name when the country was known as the Lane Xang (million elephants) Kingdom.
Laos and China have agreed to inaugurate the railway, which links Vientiane with the Chinese border, on December 2 – the day when the Lao People’s Democratic Republic celebrates its 46th anniversary.
The second passenger train that the Laos-China Railway Company plans to buy is named ‘Khaenlao’, after the khaen, which is a traditional pipe instrument whose music was inscribed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh confirmed last week that the Laos-China Railway will open on December 2 despite the escalating Covid-19 outbreak.
Authorities are drawing up plans for the opening and operation of the railway under conditions that comply with virus control measures, to ensure the safety of everyone concerned.
The plan will look at how tourism services can be offered along with measures to be introduced at the Laos-China border for the inspection of goods and passengers prior to entry and exit.
It is expected that the railway will cut the cost of transport through Laos by 30-40 percent compared to travel by road, thus giving a boost to trade and investment.
Construction of the US$5.986 billion (37.4 billion yuan) railway began in December 2016.
The 422.4-km railway runs from Vientiane to the Chinese border through the provinces of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha, passing through 75 tunnels with a combined length of 197.83km.
There are 10 passenger stations in Vientiane, Phonhong, Vangvieng, Kasy, Luang Prabang, Nga, Xay, Namor, Nateuy and Boten. There are also 22 stations for the loading and unloading of freight.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
Source: Vientiane Times, October 13, 2021