In the 2023 first quarter, the China-Laos Railway import and export freight volumes saw an increase of 274.4% year-over-year. As per the customs data coming from the Chinese city of Kunming, goods transported along the route in the first four months of this year amounted to 1033 million tonnes.
It is well to note that the increase in volumes also means more trains. Data from the Laotian authorities goes on to show that 954 freight trains transited the Laos section of the China-Laos Railway, which apparently was a year-over-year surge of 112.47%. As per CCTV News, there are more than 2,000 different kinds of goods that transit along the corridor.
Notably, from China to Laos, it is mostly mechanical equipment, household appliances, machinery parts, flowers, and vegetables. On the other hand, the goods transported from Laos to China mainly consist of cassava, metal ore, as well as barley. Apparently, it has only been 18 months since the opening of the China-Laos Rail Line, and the corridor, without a shred of doubt, is growing continuously.
Interestingly, on March 1 of this year, one of the Vietnamese infrastructure investors inked an agreement with a Laos oil trading company to study the construction of the Vietnam-Laos railway. As per the agreement, the railway will link Vientiane, the Laotian capital, to Vinh An, the Vietnamese port. The total length of the rail line is expected to be 554.7 km with a standard gauge and an operational speed of almost 150 kmph. The total investment for this project is expected to reach 4.38 billion yuan, which is almost 582 million euros.
The best part is that the planned new railway line will go on to connect to the China-Laos Railway and thereby reap the maritime advantages of the port of Vinh An, where the goods are going to arrive through rail and thereafter be shipped directly to international markets like China, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea by way of a changeover. While the agreement happens to be in the feasibility phase, it does share a new blueprint when it comes to the future of rail and sea transport between Laos and China.