The Laos-China Railway was officially launched today during a ceremony presided over by Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The landmark railway has seen Laos transform from a landlocked country to a land-linked nation, opening up new opportunities for trade and travel.
Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith spoke during a live broadcast from the National Cultural Hall, while invited guests attended the launch of the railway at Vientiane Station.
At the same time, President Xi Jinping was broadcast from Beijing, while a train stood ready to depart from Xishuangbanna Railway Station, in Kunming.
“This ceremony marks a monumental and historic milestone in the development of modern infrastructure for Laos. It’s a proud moment for the Lao people to realize this dream,” said President Thongloun Sisoulith.
He said that the Laos-China Railway is a wonderful gift for the Lao people on the occasion of its National Day, and that the railway would bring about new conditions for the comprehensive development of Laos.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave his remarks from Beijing.
“On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Laos and China, I am honored, together with Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith, to officially open this railway. I offer my full congratulations on behalf of the people and the Communist Party of China.”
President Xi said that following the opening of the Laos-China Railway, connecting China from Kunming to Laos in Vientiane Capital, the “mountains are no longer high, and the roads are no longer lengthy.”
He said that from here on both sides must work together to build the railway into a path to riches and bring prosperity to both nations.
Following remarks by both presidents, trains simultaneously departed from Vientiane Station and Kunming Station, officially launching the Laos-China Railway.
Construction of the historic 409-kilometer railway began in 2016 and was conducted in two stages. The first stage connected Luang Namtha to Vientiane Capital, while the second stage saw the final 17 kilometers from Vientiane Capital to Thannaleng.
The railway includes 33 stations, with 12 passengers stations and 20 cargo stations, while five major stations will be used as stops for express services.
The railway includes 198 kilometers of tunnels and traverses 62 kilometers of bridges with an operating speed of 160 kilometers per hour.
There are two Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains that will be in service along the railway, as well as standard train services for passengers and cargo.
A traditional Buddhist blessing ceremony was held yesterday to mark the opening of the Laos-China Railway and ensure its successful operation and included a chant by 13 monks, led by the Acting President of the Buddhist Fellowship Organisation of Laos, the Most Venerable Maha Bounma Simmaphom.
The Prime Minister, on behalf of the government’s representatives, lit incense during the religious ceremony in homage to the triple gems of Buddhism, followed by striking a gong nine times for good luck before performing other religious rites to ensure the prosperity of the railway in line with Buddhist belief.