After the Open Ceremony of the 2nd Friendship Bridge at Mukdaharn by Princess Sirindhorn on Decemebr 20, 2006, Lao Prime Minister has asked Thai Prime Minister to build the following rialway lines for Laos -
1. Ning Khai - Tha Nalaeng - Wiangchan
(SO far the first 3.5 km is now under construction, further 9 km from Tha Nalaeng to Wiangchan will be under consideration)
2. Wiangchan - Pak Xan - Tha Kahek. This line is to make a connection with Nakhon Phanom
3. Tha Khaek - Vung Ahn Port (Vietnam) to make a connection with Vietnam. Tha Khaek is a port opposite of Nakhon Phanom.
The initial phase will be meter gauge to connect with Thai Railway and Standard Gauge will be added on to make a connection with China.
Furthermore, Thai Prime Minister and Lao Prime Minister have signed Memorandom of Understandings for the 3rd Friendship Bridge and the 4th Friendship Bridge Across Mekhong.
The 3rd Friendship Bridge will link Tha Khae with Nakhon Phanom while the 4th Friendship Bridge will link Huay Sai (Boh Kaeo province) with Chiang Khong
(Chiang Rai province).
The 3rd and the 4th Friendship Bridge should have railway track as the way to stimulate both contry to build the Railway line
These 2 Bridges will also compell Thai govenrnment to revive Bua Yai - Mukdaharn - Nakhon Phanom and Denchai - Chiang Rail - Chiang Khong which have been frozen for many years. However, Thai governemtn would have to ask either JBIC or China to finance these 2 railway projects.
Rail link ready to roll By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
Viengtien Time (Latest Update January 22, 2007)
Construction work on the first Lao railway officially began on Friday, with the completion date slated for April next year.
Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh and Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula joined 100 senior officials at the ground-breaking ceremony at Dongphosy village near the Friendship Bridge in Vientiane on Friday, the site of the new train station.
Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh presses a button to reveal a commemorative plaque, accompanied by Thai Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula. --Photo Khamphanh
Work on the 3.5 km railway and train station will cost around 197 million Thai baht, 70 percent of which is a loan from the Thai government, with the remaining funds a gift from Thailand to Laos .
The project includes a passenger terminal and immigration checkpoints, as well as facilities for loading cargo. Passengers wanting to travel to Bangkok in Thailand will be able to take the train from Dongphosy, according to officials.
The rail link is expected to be completed by April 18, 2008, in accordance with a contract between the Ministry of Communication, Transport, Post and Construction and the Thai Sermsanguan Construction Company, signed in September last year.
The company has already finished some initial work, such as clearing the site to build the station and labourers' quarters, and trucks and construction materials are now in position.
Workers have already built a road cutting through rice fields to the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge , marking the new route for the railway.
The Head of the Railway Construction Project, Mr Sompong Pholsena, said the building of the railway across the Friendship Bridge would not disrupt traffic between Vientiane and Nong Khai, as most of the work would be carried out in the evenings.
Work will begin each day after the international checkpoint closes, and proceed until the checkpoint reopens in the morning.
The Minister of Communication, Transport, Post and Construction, Mr Sommad Pholsena, said during the ground-breaking ceremony that the railway would lower transport costs between Laos and Thailand .
He said that although the railway was only 3.5 km long, it would be very important because it would be the first railway in Laos , and would not only promote trade with Thailand , but also form part of a network of railways throughout Asia as well as the Mekong region.
The railway will improve the communication network in Vientiane , and contribute to the development of the country as a land-link in the region. It will also be the foundation for the industrial modernisation of Laos .
He said the Lao government would give priority to the development of the railway from Thailand to central Laos , before focusing on another route heading east to Vietnam .
A further project to develop a Lao railway to link to the Singapore-Kunming railway is also under negotiation.
Deputy Head of the Lao Railway Authority, Mr Sonesack N. Ngansana, said the government would carry out further surveys on a railway route from Tha Nalaeng train station in Donphosy to a planned train station in Sok Kham village in the suburbs of Vientiane .
A Japanese train company has agreed to assist in providing a train for use on the first railway to be built in Laos , connecting Laos to Thailand over
the Friendship Bridge .
The President of Tezuka Rolling Stock Industry Co Ltd, Mr Kiyonori Tezuka, told Lao media on Friday that his company will absolutely assist Laos
so that it will not be necessary to rent a train from Thailand .
" We are keen to assist developing countries, especially Laos ," he said.
At first, the company thought of providing one of its own trains, but it was not suitable for use on the 3.5km track, so it has decided instead to buy
one from Thailand. (God Old ALSTHOM?)
The train will consist of an engine, a goods truck and a passenger carriage, and should be available by the time the railway is completed,
in 18 months' time. (This refer to BCFs and 3rd Class Carriages)
According to the project coordinator negotiating between the Lao government and the company, Mr Hom Songpadith, Mr Tezuka travelled to Bangkok
on Saturday to discuss purchase of the train from Thailand .
Mr Hom is a Lao businessman living in Tokyo . He said that he had learned from the Lao ambassador to Japan that Laos would have a railway, but
had no train.
Mr Hom met with Mr Tezuka, who operates a train service in Tokyo and agreed to assist in providing a train for Laos .
Mr Hom and Mr Tezuka came to Laos to attend the stone-laying ceremony at Dongphosy village close to the Friendship Bridge on Friday, where
the station will be built.
Mr Tezuka has agreed to provide training for officials from the Ministry of Communication, Transport, Post and Construction in relation to train
transport techniques. They will first attend a six-month course in Vientiane to learn Japanese before going to Japan to learn about railways first-hand.
It is important to prepare human resources to manage the railway efficiently, Mr Hom said.
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