Laos To Build New Rail Link

Laos took the first step to build a rail link late last month, according to the Radio Free Asia that claimed Lao officials attended a ground breaking ceremony.

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The report said a Malaysian company, Gian Consolidated, will construct and operate a 220-km railway line that will transverse central Laos from Savannakhet on the border with Thailand and Lao Bao on the border with Vietnam in the east.

In November 2012, the company was awarded a contract to construct and operate the railway that will eventually link with railway lines to Vietnam’s Danang port city. It will take four years to build the first phase in Laos.

A financial institution apparently promised to fund the project last April authorizing a loan of US$5 billion to the Malaysian company.

Laos is also cooperating with China’s railway to establish a US$7.2 billion high speed train that will link Yunnan province in China with Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang and Vientiane. The 420-km project was stalled two years ago when Chinese officials were prosecuted for corruption involving domestic projects.

However, there is plenty of opposition to the project in Laos where opponents say the government would have to give the Chinese swaths of land on each side of the line to use for agriculture or industrial purposes.

Land-locked Laos has just one rail line 3.5-km long from the MekongRiver at Nong Khai Thailand to Vientiane the capital.

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