Laos is set to gain from a high speed railway that will link Thailand with China. The line is planned to connect the southern Chinese city of Kunming to Bangkok, passing through the Laotian capital of Vientiane on the way.
The rail system in Laos is still undeveloped, and its 3.5 kilometer-long railroad, single train station, and low capacity has mostly been used to ferry tourists into the country from the Thai border town of Nongkhai.
However, this is quickly changing with the regional integration the ASEAN Economic Community will bring, along with large economies such as China and Japan seeking to profit from its potential.
Because of its central location in the ASEAN region, Laos is being looked at by many investors as a hub for business, trade and transportation. While landlocked, Laos has a unique position as the only country in Southeast Asia that borders five others.
Thai Permanent Secretary for Transport Soithip Trisuddhi sees not just regional, but also global implications. “We see this as an investment for the future, connecting us with the world,”
“The Chinese will have a rail line to Europe. If we build this then we will be linked with China through Laos. We would also be connecting with the standard gauge line currently being developed in Malaysia and Singapore.” said Trisuddhi.
Laos seeks to capitalize on its potential as well, and there are plans to build two larger railways within its own borders. “The first line will link the north with the south and the second line will link the east with to the west,” said Somsana Ratsaphong, director-general of Lao Railways. “The aim is to link Laos to seaports via rail, transforming this land-locked country into a land-linked one.”