China-Laos railway puts trade on fast track
Aerial photo shows an electric multiple unit (EMU) train of the China-Laos Railway crossing a major bridge over the Yuanjiang River in southwest China's Yunnan Province, Dec. 3, 2021. (Xinhua/Wang Guansen)
KUNMING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The China-Laos Railway, a landmark project of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, has boosted regional connectivity and economic cooperation since it started operation three months ago.
As of Thursday, the railway has handled more than 350 international freight trains which transported over 250,000 tonnes of cargo, according to the China Railway Kunming Group Co., Ltd.
Driven by the increasing demand for transportation, the types of goods have expanded from fertilizers, fodder and vegetables at the beginning to electronic products, monocrystalline silicon, daily necessities and communication equipment, said Xu Chao, deputy general manager of the Kunming branch of China United International Rail Containers Co., Ltd.
In order to better serve train operation and improve efficiency, local authorities have coordinated efforts between epidemic control and transportation service, and facilitated the customs clearance at ports.
"Our train service has become more diversified, from traditional international cargo trains to Lancang-Mekong Express and cold chain trains," Xu said, adding that the Lancang-Mekong Express only takes 26 hours from Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, to the Laotian capital Vientiane.
Opening to traffic on Dec. 3, 2021, the China-Laos Railway runs over 1,000 km and links Kunming with Vientiane. It is the first overseas railway jointly constructed and operated by the two countries.
International trade companies are among those who benefit from the railway. Laos is embracing modern logistics services including road-rail combined transport and one-stop customs clearance, which improves the timeliness of cargo transportation and largely reduces costs, said Wang Lijun, chairman of Haofeng International Transport Co., Ltd, a Chinese joint venture rooted in Laos for over a decade.
Wang said the development of his company has entered into the fast lane, with business growing rapidly.
"The China-Laos Railway saves us about 30 percent of logistics cost from Kunming to Vientiane. The rail transport is more punctual and can reduce damages to the goods," said Yang Jie from Shanghai Rencheng Supply Chain Management Co., Ltd. "We are more confident to expand Southeast Asian market."
"The launch of the railway has not only promoted economic development along the route but also accelerated the construction of the China-Laos Economic Corridor and the community of a shared future between the two sides," said Ma Yong, head of the institute of Southeast Asian studies under the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences.
As the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement entered into force in January, the destinations of international freight via China-Laos Railway have been expanded to more countries and regions including Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia.