In early December 2021, Laos inaugurated the Boten-Vientiane railway, a 414-kilometer (km) electrified high-speed railway that runs between the capital Vientiane and the town of Boten on the Laos-China border.
This US$6 billion project (equivalent to one-third of Laos’ GDP) is backed by China as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and is a linchpin of the deepening ties between the two countries. Traveling to the Chinese border now takes less than four hours compared to the 15 hours by car and costs US$33 for a second-class seat. At Boten, the line heads north some 595km before ending in Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan province, and could significantly transform connected this landlocked mountainous country and attract greater foreign investment and tourists. Logistics costs from Vientiane to Kunming are expected to drop by some 40 to 50 percent.
The southern part of the line will connect the Thai province of Nong Khai to the capital Bangkok.
Ayman Falak Medinav