VIENTIANE, Jan 21, 2019, The Laotian Times. Construction of Thailand’s component of the regional high-speed rail network linked to China’s ambitious One Belt One Road plan is on the move again after years of delays hampered the progress of the high-profile project, reported The Laotian Times.
A first 3.5km phase was the subject of a groundbreaking ceremony in December 2018, presided over by Thai PM Prayut Chan-Ocha.
Set to link up with the Lao-China railway at the Laos border, the railway will connect Thailand’s capital Bangkok with the country’s northeastern city of Nong Khai on the Lao border, a distance of 873 km (542 miles).
Trains will run at top speeds of up to 250km/h, leading overland travel time from Bangkok to Nong Khai to be cut from 11 to three hours when the full line is operational in 2023.
The 250-km (155 mile) section linking Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima is expected to be operational in 2021.
The bidding process for a further six phases should be carried out in 2019, Thailand’s Bangkok Post has reported.
It is expected that once completed, rail passengers traversing Thailand with appropriate tickets and travel documents shall be able to proceed onward to the Lao capital of Vientiane and stations in Laos beyond and onward to stations in China’s Yunnan including the provincial capital Kunming.
After leaving Na Tha station in Nong Khai’s Muang district, the railway is set to pass over the Mekong River via a new Thai-Lao friendship bridge specifically designed to accommodate the expected rail passenger and freight traffic.
The Laotian Times has provided periodic updates on the progress of the Lao China Railway project as construction continues toward a 2021 completion target.