VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Construction of the Khamsavath railway station, situated on the Laos-Thailand Railway in inner Vientiane, is now complete and the station is slated to become operational in the near future.
The new station, located in Khamsavath village, Xaysettha district, is 7.5km from Thanaleng station in Hadxaifong district, which connects to Thailand’s Nong Khai province.
Deputy director-general of Thailand’s Department of Rail Transport (DRT) Athipu Chitranukroh and deputy director-general of the Customs Department Kitjaluck Srinuchsart visited the station recently to monitor the progress of construction. During their talks, officials from the two sides agreed to ask their governments to consider opening the station during the 10th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit to be hosted by Laos.
Leaders of ACMECS’ member countries - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - will attend the summit. A precise date for the summit has not yet been set.
It is up to the leaders (of Laos and Thailand) to decide on the precise date of the opening, according to a source from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport involved in the project.
The 7.5km rail extension has been built under Phase II of the Laos-Thailand railway project and is intended for passenger use.
The extension is funded by Thailand through its Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency in the amount of 994.7 million baht (about 235.6 billion kip). Of this, 30 per cent is in the form of a grant and 70 per cent is a low-interest loan.
Phase I of the railway was completed in 2008 and officially opened for service in March 2009. It comprised a 3.5km track between Thanalaeng station in Laos across the border to Nong Khai province in Thailand via the Laos-Thailand Mekong Friendship Bridge.
During the recent visit, Thai officials and their Lao counterparts discussed a potential China-Laos-Thailand rail link, which could cut the cost of freight transport by 30-50 per cent in three to five years’ time, Thailand’s Bangkok Post reported.
The report added that the high-speed rail network could be built alongside existing infrastructure and would benefit both Thailand and neighbouring countries.
Freight is already being shipped between Laos, Thailand and China by rail. The conventional one-metre-gauge railway linking Laos and Thailand has been extended in parallel with the standard-gauge Laos-China Railway at the Thanaleng Dry Port, where cargo can be transferred from one track to the other.