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China-Laos railway hits 30 million passengers

(ANN/THE CHINA DAILY) – As of Tuesday, the China-Laos Railway has made significant strides in bolstering cross-border connectivity, marking over 30 million passenger journeys and transporting more than 34 million metric tonnes of freight.

The China State Railway Group, responsible for the construction and management of this international railway, reported that it has facilitated the transport of 30.2 million passengers and 34.2 million tonnes of cargo to date, including a notable 7.8 million tonnes of international freight.

In response to growing demand, the railway has ramped up its service offerings. Particularly on the Chinese stretch, the frequency of passenger trains has seen a substantial increase—from an initial 35 daily services at the railway’s inception in late 2021 to 51 currently—boosting daily ridership from approximately 20,000 to 103,000 individuals.

This expansion reflects the railway’s commitment to meeting the dynamic needs of its passengers while playing a crucial role in the transnational flow of people and goods between China and Laos.

Passengers board a China-Laos international passenger train in Kunming, Yunnan province, to travel to Laos. PHOTO: XINHUA

Meanwhile, in Laos, the number of daily passenger trains has tripled from four to 12, and daily ridership has grown from 720 to 12,808.

Enhancements in ticket purchasing have also been introduced, including an online and mobile application ticketing system launched in March last year.

The international passenger service, connecting Kunming in Yunnan province to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, commenced on April 13 last year.

This service, taking roughly nine and a half hours, has already accommodated over 155,000 cross-border passengers from 87 different countries and regions.

The international service recently began stopping at two additional stations, Yuxi in China and Muang Xay in Laos, taking the total number of stops on the cross-border service to 10.

The number of cross-border freight trains running each day has increased from two at the beginning of operations to 20.

The railway has transported 1.06 million tonnes of cross-border cargo so far this year, a year-on-year increase of 33.9 per cent.

Using the China-Laos Railway and the China-Europe freight train services, cargo can be transported between Southeast Asian countries such as Laos and Thailand and European countries in 15 days.

On the Laotian section, the regular-speed train has also carried parcels between Vientiane and Boten, on the border with China, since February 20, transporting a total of 15,173 packages. Parcels can be delivered in one day between the capital and the border city.

Wang Lijuan, the owner of an international tourism agency in Kunming, said she had seen more travelers from Thailand take the railway to China since the opening of the international passenger service last year.

“In the past, Thai tourists, especially from northern Thailand, had to travel to Bangkok to make a transfer before taking the plane to China,” she said. Her company mainly works with foreign tourists who want to travel to China.

The 1,035-kilometre China-Laos Railway, a landmark project of the Belt and Road Initiative, began operation in December 2021. It has turned Laos from a landlocked country into a land-linked hub in the Indochina Peninsula.