December 23, 2010The government has urged National Assembly (NA) members to help advocate a proposed China-Laos high speed railway as it believes the mega investment project will speed up development in Laos.
Speaking yesterday at the 10th Ordinary Session of the Sixth Legislature of the NA, Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad said the government would like Lao people, particularly those living in the planned project area, to learn about the importance of the railway line.
The government hopes to encourage them to participate in development of the US$7 billion project so construction of the 421km railway from the Laos-China border to Vientiane can begin in April as planned.
Mr Somsavat said the proposed railway would be a historic event for Laos and would bring huge benefits to the country, adding that the project is part of the government’s policy to turn Laos from a landlocked nation into a land-linked country.
He also said the profile of Laos would be raised as it would be the first country in the region to have a high speed railway.
Mr Somsavat told NA members that Laos and China signed a memorandum of understanding on the railway in April this year after President Choummaly Sayasone and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an agreement to elevate relations between the two countries to that of ‘all round strategic cooperation partners’.
Based on the MOU, Laos and China will establish a joint venture to build and operate the railway and associated services, he said, adding that China will hold a 70 percent investment share and the rest would belong to Lao partners .
Laos and China agreed that construction of the railway would begin in April 2011 to mark the 50 th anniversary of Laos-China diplomatic relations and be completed within four years as a gift to Laos to mark the nation’s 40th anniversary.
Mr Somsavat said over the past five to six months, Lao and Chinese officials had carried out a survey for the proposed railway.
The railway would be 421km long and include 190km of tunnels and 90km of bridges. It is envisaged that electric trains travelling at 200km per hour would carry passengers and trains travelling at 120 km per hour would carry freight.
There would be five main stations along the line – at Boten, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, Vangvieng and Vientiane.
Mr Somsavat said construction of the railway would involve 50,000 workers, adding that the project would train workers in Laos while management staff would be sent to China for training.
The railway would form part of the Asean-China rail link, which begins in Yunnan province, China, and runs to Singapore through Laos and Thailand.
The Thai government has already signed an agreement with China to develop the section of line that runs through Thailand and Malaysia.
The Chinese government hopes the railway will open up a major trading route after the implementation of the China-Asean Free Trade Agreement earlier this year.