Published: 17:54, April 14, 2024 | Updated: 01:18, April 15, 2024
China-Laos railway on track as it marks first anniversary
By Xu Weiwei in Hong Kong

Wang Chang, chargé d'affaires of the Chinese embassy in Laos; Laotian Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Suansavanh Viyaket; and Director General of Laos-China Railway Liu Hong attend the first anniversary ceremony China-Laos Railway held in Vientiane on April 13, 2024.  (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

As China and Laos marked the first anniversary of the launch of cross-border railway services on April 13,both sides have added another pair of trains to the China-Laos Railway’s international passenger service.

The new trains run between Xishuangbanna in the southernmost tip of Yunnan province on the Chinese mainland and the town of Luang Prabang in northern Laos, both of which are popular tourist destinations.

Saturday marked the first year of the launch of the China-Laos Railway’s international passenger service, with one pair of trains running between Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province, and the Laotian capital, Vientiane

According to China State Railway Group Co, the additional trains will initially operate on four days weekly -- every Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The entire trip covers six stations and takes about five hours, enabling passengers to make a round trip in a day. Tickets can be purchased online and offline.

Saturday marked the first year of the launch of the China-Laos Railway’s international passenger service, with one pair of trains running between Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province, and the Laotian capital, Vientiane. 

Wang Chang, chargé d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in Vientiane, attended a separate ceremony in the Laotian capital hosted by the China-Laos Railway. Laotian Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Suansavanh Viyaket, and Director-General of the Laos-China Railway, Liu Hong, were also present. 

Zhang Sheping, consul general of the Chinese Consulate General in Luang Prabang, attends a local ceremony marking the occasion on April 13. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

As a high-quality landmark project under the Belt and Road Initiative, the 1,035-km China-Laos Railway began international passenger services on April 13 last year. Within a year, the railway has handled more than 180,000 cross-border passenger trips involving travelers from 87 countries and regions. 

Wang said the China-Laos Railway highlighted the effectiveness of the “golden corridor”. This year is “Visit Laos Year” launched by the Laotian s government to coincide with the country assuming the chairmanship of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Wang believes the China-Laos Railway will play an important and irreplaceable role in showcasing Laos’s traditions, customs and culture, and economic achievements, as well as promoting regional personnel exchanges. 

Viyaket said the Laos-China Railway is the flagship of the strategic collaboration between the two countries in the new era. She said Laos is willing to cooperate with China in making full use of the “golden corridor” to provide greater convenience, as well as opportunities, for people-to-people exchanges and economic and trade cooperation between Laos and China.

A maiden train (right) of the route between Xishuangbanna of China and Luang Prabang of Laos prepares for departure in Xishuangbanna railway station, southwest China's Yunnan province, April 13, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Viyaket said she hopes both sides can greater contributions to improving connectivity in the region and driving social and economic development.

Zhang Sheping, consul general of the Chinese Consulate General in Luang Prabang, who attended a local ceremony to mark the occasion on Saturday, said the China-Laos Railway has seen a boom in passenger and freight traffic since its opening, with both passenger trips and freight tonnage having exceeded 30 million. The railway has greatly facilitated personnel exchanges between the two countries and regions in the past year.

Zhang said he hopes that with the latest pair of trains serving Xishuangbanna and Luang Prabang, and through the joint efforts of both sides, this “golden corridor” would become even more beneficial. 

Staff members welcome passengers to board a maiden train on the route from Xishuangbanna of China to Luang Prabang of Laos in Xishuangbanna railway station, southwest China's Yunnan province,  April 13, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Representatives from China and Laos at the ceremony greeted the first group of passengers arriving at Luang Prabang and garlanded them. They also showered the passengers with blessings by sprinkling water and presenting souvenirs, and took photos with them, sending the China-Laos Railway’s best wishes and hailing China-Laos friendship.

David Song, a Chinese operating a hospital in Laos said that the China-Laos Railway benefited him a lot as he travelled several times on it within one year.

Passengers get off the maiden train running between Xishuangbanna of China and Luang Prabang of Laos at the Mohan railway station of the China-Laos Railway in southwest China's Yunnan province, April 13, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

So far, up to 738 international passenger trains have used the railway, facilitating the smooth entry and exit of 183,000 passengers, according to officials at the Mohan checkpoint on the Chinese border with Laos in southwestern Yunnan.

Most of the passengers were tourists from Laos, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, or who were visiting families and friends, and on business. During this year’s Spring Festival holidays, Laos saw a boost in tourism, driven by the heavy passenger flow on the China-Laos Railway.

Crew members work at the cab of a maiden train on the route from Xishuangbanna of China to Luang Prabang of Laos in Xishuangbanna railway station, southwest China's Yunnan province, April 13, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Passengers board a maiden train on the route from Xishuangbanna of China to Luang Prabang of Laos in Xishuangbanna railway station, southwest China's Yunnan province, April 13, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
Crew members perform for passengers onboard a maiden train on the route from Xishuangbanna of China to Luang Prabang of Laos, April 13, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Xinhua contributed to this story.

vivienxu@chinadailyapac.com