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Laos steps up cooperation with GMS countries for rail connectivity

Laos continues to look forward to cooperating with neighbouring countries for sustainable railway connectivity in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) while pursuing its dream to transform the country from landlocked to land-linked.
Director General of the Planning and Cooperation Department under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Mr Sengdarith Kattignasack, made the comment last week during the GMS Association Board of Directors General Meeting in Vientiane.
He added that the government’s policy was to transform the country into a transit transport service provider within the region, through land links.
The government is developing rail transport to enhance connectivity and is in the process of building and preparing to build several railways.
First and foremost is the under-construction railway from the Chinese border to Vientiane over a distance of 414km. The railway is now 27 percent complete and has a construction deadline of December 2, 2021.
The existing 3.5km Lao-Thai railway in Vientiane will be lengthened by 7.5km in Phase 2 of this project.
The Vientiane-Thakhaek-Mugia-Tan Up-Vung Ang Railway Project, which will be 555km long and a spur line of the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link, has undergone a feasibility study financed by a grant from the Republic of Korea.
The planned Savannakhet-Laobao railway, running to the Vietnamese border over a distance of 220km, is now in the feasibility study stage.
Also in the pipeline is the Vientiane-Pakxe-Veunkham-Lao Cambodia border railway, for which the Lao Department of Railways is working intensively to seek financing for a feasibility study.
Mr Sengdarith said Laos was looking forward to the completion of these railways, as they would be a strong driver of socio-economic development, turning the country into a land bridge in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region and complementing China’s Belt and Road initiative.
At the meeting, a Working Group provided a comprehensive presentation on the results of the GMRA Transport Modeling, Financial and Economic Analysis in Prioritising the GMS Missing Railway Links and there were fruitful discussions of the draft Framework Agreement for Cross-Border Railways.
To achieve transport connectivity, the Asian Development Bank and GMS members would need to join forces in moving the framework agreement forward by aligning both hard and soft infrastructure to fit the set objectives of the agreement.
The GMS Association Board of Directors General Meeting heard presentations that would help member countries to broaden their horizons on railways in the GMS context and realise their importance in fullfilling the GMS’ strategies of increasing connectivity, improving competitiveness, and building a greater sense of community.
Laos is just at the very beginning stage of development and investment and currently has only 3.5km of railway track.
Rail transport of both freight and passengers is considered to be one of the most efficient and effective modes of transport.


 

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
March 26,
2018)


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