Investment in the under-construction Laos-China railway reached 6.8 billion yuan ($980 million) last year, accounting for 49.8 per cent of total investment in the mega infrastructure project.

The figure was reported at the annual meeting of the Laos-China Railway Company (LCRC) on Monday in Vientiane in the presence of its chairman, Ju Guojiang.

During the meeting, LCRC general manager Li Bing Xuang expressed confidence to company employees that targets relating to the construction of the railway would be achieved this year.

So far, more than 170km of tunnels have been completed accounting for 86.5 per cent of those planned. Some 52 out of the project’s 75 tunnels along the rail route, including the longest tunnel – the 9.384km Phangam Mountain tunnel – were completed ahead of schedule.

More than 36km of bridges have been constructed, accounting for 59.3 per cent of those planned, 97.3 per cent of landfill work has been accomplished, 78.7 per cent of the station groundwork is complete, and the first laying of 500m of track was completed on December 2.

“In 2020, the company will focus on achieving its annual investment goals and meeting its quality, safety, progress, and investment and environmental targets,” Li said.

Symbol of relations

Construction of the railway is a cooperative project between the governments of Laos and China. It is a symbol of their traditional relations and comprehensive strategic partnership and part of Laos’ strategy to turn itself from being landlocked into a land-linked country as well as being part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Project Management Committee for the Laos-China Railway Project head Khampian Inthaleusa said the railway was vital to the strategies of the two countries, and its construction required the fulfilling of quality, planning, safety and environmental standards.

As of November, compensation committees at the central and provincial levels were able to hand over 406.8sq km of land or 99.59 per cent of the total 409.80sq km required for completion of the railway.

Compensation totalled 666.1 billion kip ($75 million), of which the Laos-China Railway Company financed 416.83 billion, and the Lao government loaned 249.98 billion kip.

Construction work was 83 per cent complete on total railway infrastructure, Khampian said.