VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Lao and Thai companies have signed a deal to facilitate the shipment of freight by rail between Thailand, Laos and China, creating an improved transport platform to boost regional trade.
Under the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in Vientiane last week, the parties will work together to ease cargo shipment via the Laos-Thailand and Laos-China railways, the Lao News Agency reported.
The agreement was signed by the Director General of the Lao National Railway State Enterprise (LNR), Daochinda Sihalath; CEO of Global Multimodal Logistics, Sanchak Suenchom; Deputy CEO of Pan-asia Silk Road, Padej Metiyanon; and President of Kaocharoen Train Transport, Panya Paphutsaro.
The LNR will coordinate, facilitate and reserve rail trailers from the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) and the Laos-China Railway to be used by the three companies for the purpose of international freight transport.
The LNR will also reserve trains from the State Railway of Thailand for freight transport between the State Railway of Thailand in Bangkok and the Thanaleng railway station in Vientiane.
The companies are expected to ship fruit from Thailand - a major grower of farm products in the region - to China via Laos.
The companies have set a monthly target to ship at least 20,000 tonnes of durian and other fruit grown in Thailand to the Chinese market of 1.4 billion consumers.
Global Multimodal Logistics, owned by PTT, and Pan-asia Silk Road, will coordinate with durian sellers in China. Meanwhile, Kaocharoen Train Transport will serve as a transporter and the Lao Railway State Enterprise will provide refrigerated containers.
Since the Laos-China Railway became operational in December 2021, it has seen a sharp rise in demand for both freight and passenger transport.
The number of passengers travelling on the Laos-China Railway is soaring. During the first two months of this year, the railway carried a total of 417,400 passengers, an increase of 256.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The railway also transported 647,700 tonnes of goods in these two months, an increase of 320 per cent compared to the same period in 2022.
Thanks to faster and more cost-effective transport services, more Thai exporters are now shipping goods to China by rail.
Sakhone Philangam, managing director of the Thanaleng Dry Port, which houses extensions of the Laos-Thailand and Laos-China railways, said transport time to the Chinese border from the dry port in Vientiane near the Thai border is now much shorter, taking just four hours.
Recently, a freight train departing from Kunming in China’s Yunnan province arrived in Bangkok, taking just 55 hours to reach its destination. This time shortened the journey by one day and decreased logistics costs by 20 per cent compared to previous methods of transport which involved both rail and road transportation, according to a report.