1st cargo train of China-Laos Railway leaves Vientiane for China

2021-12-03 12:05:27 GMT2021-12-03 20:05:27(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

VIENTIANE, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- The first cargo train of the China-Laos Railway bound for China left here on Friday afternoon soon after the railway was officially inaugurated.

Among the cargo loaded on the train are potash products manufactured by a China-Lao joint venture named Sino-Agri International Potash Company.

"We are honored to ship our products through the first cargo train bound for China. The operation of the railway will help boost the potassium production in Laos and its exportation," the company's general manager Tong Yongheng told Xinhua on Friday.

The 1,035-kilometer electrified passenger and cargo railway, connecting Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province with the Lao capital Vientiane, fully adopts Chinese technical standards and consists of two sections.

Construction of the section in Laos from the border town of Boten to Vientiane started in December 2016, and construction of the section in China from city of Yuxi to the border town of Mohan started in December 2015.

"The operation of the Laos-China Railway is what the Lao people have expected for decades and a demonstration of the relationship between the two countries," Xay Manithong, a local lab technician of the company told Xinhua.

As a docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country into a land-linked hub, the railway is of great significance to bilateral economic, social and cultural exchanges as well as the regional connectivity.

"With the operation of the railway, our company is also embracing better development opportunities, and our staff and local people's lives will also turn better," said the 39-year-old Xay.

With a maximum operating speed of 160 km per hour, the running time from Kunming to Vientiane takes about 10 hours, including customs clearance time.

According to Tong, the company's annual 1-million-ton potassium production line has entered the pilot phase recently in Khammouane Province of the central Laos.

"Our company is now eyeing the second and the third 1-million-ton production lines. We will produce more high-tech products and employ more local people," said Tong.

Li Mufan, deputy general manager of Yunnan Rubber Investment Company under China's Yunnan State Farms Group, felt the same as Tong.

Li's company has been engaged in replacement plantation in Laos since 2005 and the train bound for China is also carring the company's rubber products made in Laos.

"We have invested over 150 million U.S. dollars in Laos, building 21 rubber plantations and three rubber processing factories. The operation of the railway will greatly improve the two peoples' exchange and goods transportation so as to benefit the bilateral trade," said Li.

The historic first train from Laos to China carries goods and hope of the Lao people.

"Personally, I hope my family will have the chance to ride on the railway to visit China and enjoy the scenery along the way," said Xay.

Xay's colleague Chammala Shengsouly was born in Laos' remote province of Phongsaly. She now lives in Vientiane.

"My company's investment increases the local employment, and for me, the better income helps me buy a house in Vientiane, like many other colleagues," said the 41-year-old woman.

She looks forward to seeing more Lao products to be exported to China via the railway, which she believes will enhance Laos' reputation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the world.

For Vou Chanthaxay, 31, a local worker of Yunnan Rubber Investment Company, the railway has already brought considerable changes to himself and his hometown.

"Years ago, the people could barely make a living by growing upland rice, and there were even people growing poppy in some remote villages. Yunnan Rubber Investment Company came to build nice plantations here, with full access of tap water, electricity and road."

Now, Vou has earned a monthly income of 2.5 million kip (200 U.S. dollars) to 5 million kip (over 400 U.S. dollars) by working for the rubber company.

"On this special day, I made a wish that I can travel by this railway to visit China with my family someday," said Vou.

The China-Laos railway will be a game changer for the overall development of Laos.

Lei Chao, a project executive manager of the China Railway No. 2 Engineering Group (CREC-2) told Xinhua that he was excited over the operation of the railway, believing that the railway will bring more tourists to Lao tourist sites like Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Vangvieng and Oudomxay, reviving the tourism sector in the country.

The CREC-2 undertook the railing work of the China-Laos Railway's Lao section. Lei said, "The China-Laos Railway will boost the Lao exports to China and the world including agricultural products and handicrafts.

"The China-Laos Railway will bring the two countries and the two peoples closer."

The railway has changed the lives of many locals.

Three girls, namely Sida Phaengphongsavanh, Chanthaly Phetmanysone and Ahmy Narmmaxay, have completed their training and joined the Laos-China Railway CO., Ltd. (LCRC), a joint venture which operates the railway's Lao section.

"I am quite glad and proud to be among the first trainees of the railway," said Sida.

Ahmy was also cheerful, saying, "As one of the first trainees, we have overcome various challenges. The Laos-China Railway connects the two peoples, and will further nourish the peoples' friendship and give new impetus to the Lao economy."

"We hope the operation of the railway will improve the people's lives, attract more investors and visitors and benefit more Lao people," said Chanthaly. Enditem