The China-Laos Railway connecting Kunming, the provincial capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province with Lao capital Vientiane, began operations on Friday.
The journey from Kunming to Vientiane over the 1,000-km-plus railroad takes about 10 hours at the fastest speed – 5 hours and 20 minutes from Kunming to Mohan on the Chinese border and 3 hours and 20 minutes from Boten on the Laos border to Vientiane.
The China-Laos railway is split by the border into two sections – the 613-km section from Kunming to Yuxi and then to Mohan in China and the 422-km Boten-Vientiane rail in Laos.
The Kunming to Yuxi rail in China was completed in 2016. The construction of Yuxi-Mohan rail in China and Boten-Vientiane rail in Laos began in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
The railway crosses the Mekong River twice, passing through two 60-km tropical forest mountain areas. Under complex geology and a harsh construction environment such as steep terrain, turbulent rivers, broken rock formations, frequent water and mud inrush in tunnels, a total of 167 tunnels and 301 bridges were built along the newly constructed Yuxi-Mohan and Boten-Vientiane railroads. The total length of the tunnels and bridges adds up to over 712 km, accounting for 76.5 percent of the two new railroads.
The China-Laos railway is a docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub. China is responsible for most of the investment and construction, and the project adopted Chinese railway technical standards and Chinese construction equipment.
An important part of the trans-Asian railway network, the China-Laos Railway will shorten traffic time and boost bilateral trade between China and Laos, better connect Laos with other economies in the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as generate more jobs and attract global investment to the Southeast Asian nation.