Laos and Thailand have agreed to start Phase II of the construction of the Laos-Thailand railway, which will link the existing suburban station to central Vientiane. The 7.5 km extension is expected to be complete at the end of 2021. The Department of Railways under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the project with Thailand’s Sermsanguan Construction Co., Ltd. The MOU was signed by the Director General of of the Department of Railways, Mr Sengthavisay Malivanh, and the Project Manager of Sermsanguan Construction, Mr Pongsak Roopkaew, and witnessed by Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport, Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong.
The extension will link the Thanalaeng railway station in Hadxaifong district to Khamsavat village in central Xaysettha district. Under the agreement, Sermsanguan Construction will take 27 months to complete the work. Speaking at the MOU signing ceremony, Project Manager for the Laos-Thailand railway Phase II, Mr Hinphet Lakhonevong, said the project was financed by a loan from Thailand’s Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA). Thailand has provided more than 994 million baht, of which 30 percent is in the form of a grant and 70 percent is a low-interest loan. Laos currently has only 3.5 km of railway linking the capital to Thailand’s Nong Khai province via the Laos-Thailand Friendship Bridge. When the extension is complete, the track will be 11 kilometres long.
Authorities say that when the railway extension is finished and operational, it will result in a significant increase in passenger numbers and tourist arrivals. The station in Khamsavat village will be just 4km from the city centre (That Luang). The railway will provide a shorter route into central Vientiane than travelling the 17km by road from That Luang to Thanalaeng railway station. The Railway Management Division said work on Phase II of the railway began a few years ago, including construction of a container yard , dormitories for staff, and a rail operations office, as well as improvements to signals.