Laos and Thailand have agreed to start Phase II of the construction of the Laos-Thailand railway, which will link the existing suburban station to central Vientiane.
The 7.5km extension is expected to be complete by the end of 2021.
The Department of Railways under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the project with Thailand’s Sermsanguan Construction Co Ltd.
The MoU was signed by the Department of Railways director-general Sengthavisay Malivanh and Sermsanguan Construction project manager Pongsak Roopkaew, and witnessed by Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Bounchanh Sinthavong.
Work will take 27 months
The extension will link the Thanaleng railway station in Hadxaifong district to Khamsavat village in central Xaysettha district.
Under the agreement, Sermsanguan Construction will take 27 months to complete the work.
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, Laos-Thailand railway Phase II project manager Hinphet Lakhonevong said the project was financed by a loan from Thailand’s Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (Neda).
Thailand has provided more than 994 million baht ($32.4 million), of which 30 per cent is in the form of a grant and 70 per cent is a low-interest loan. Laos currently has only 3.5km of railway linking the capital to Thailand’s Nong Khai province via the Laos-Thailand Friendship Bridge.
When the extension is complete, the track will be 11km long.
Increase in arrivals
Authorities say that when the railway extension is finished and operational, it will result in a significant increase in passenger numbers and tourist arrivals.
The station in Khamsavat village will be just 4km from the city centre in the That Luang area. The railway will provide a shorter route into central Vientiane than travelling the 17km by road from That Luang to Thanaleng railway station.
The Railway Management Division said work on Phase II of the railway began a few years ago, including construction of a container yard, dormitories for staff, and a rail operations office, as well as improvements to signals. VIENTIANE TIMES