Passengers taking the Laos-China Railway between Laos and China could face a four-hour wait at immigration before continuing their journey.
The government of Laos is taking steps to simplify procedures at the Laos-China immigration checkpoint, according to Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr. Viengsavath Siphandone.
Mr. Viengsavath said in an interview with Lao media that the primary obstacle for cross-border travel from Vientiane to Kunming via rail is the international checkpoint system.
There are two checkpoints, says the minister, with the process to pass both of them taking roughly four hours. When added to the train travel time of eight hours, Mr. Viengsavath estimated that completing the trip would take a passenger up to 12 hours.
The combination of an excessively long process at the border added to the travel time could impact railway services, causing passengers to choose other means of transport instead, he noted.
However, Mr. Viengsavath says that both governments are working together to find a solution and try to reduce the time required to complete immigration. It is hoped that entry and exit procedures could be completed at a single location for the convenience of passengers.
Approximately 1.2 million passengers traveled on the Laos-China railway between 3 December 2021 and 12 December 2022, with ten stations now in operation.
The Laos-China Railway has come under fire for failing to prepare its online ticketing system, which is not yet available to all customers globally.
While the borders between Laos and China reopened on 8 January in line with Chinese policy, the Laos-China Railway has not yet begun facilitating travel between the two countries.