Launch of cross-border passenger service on China-Laos Railway seen as historic event
As the only landlocked country of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with mountains and plateaus that account for about 80 percent of its land area, Laos has realized its dream of becoming a land-linked hub in the region with the cross-border railway, Director General of Lao News Agency (KPL) Khampheuy Philapha told Xinhua on Monday.
The China-Laos Railway is a docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub.
"Cross-border passenger service on the China-Laos Railway will support the Lao government's policy to transform itself from being a landlocked country into a land link, as a regional one or even a global one," Khampheuy said.
He added that it would greatly benefit Laos, given its significant role in bolstering the Southeast Asian country's economic development.
As a major part of the trans-Asian railway network, the China-Laos Railway will also become a "golden key" for Laos to connect with China and other ASEAN members, which will positively impact the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation.
"The launch of the cross-border passenger service will be a historic milestone in the cooperation between Laos and China," Vanxay Tavinyan, deputy chief of the Propaganda and Training Board of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee, told Xinhua.
"The cross-border passenger train will make cross-border travel between Laos and China more convenient and boost cultural exchanges between the two countries. It will also facilitate foreign visitors' travel to and from China," he said.
Tourism experts predicted that millions of Chinese tourists will visit ASEAN nations, and many will travel on the China-Laos Railway.
Vanxay believed that the cross-border train will bring more tourists, especially Chinese, to Laos, create development opportunities for tourism-related industries and help improve local people's livelihood.
The China-Laos Railway, which links the Lao capital Vientiane with Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan province, has brought great benefits to the Lao people and opened up a new path for Laos' development and prosperity.
The railway marks a monumental and historic milestone in developing modern infrastructure for Laos, said Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith at the launching ceremony on Dec. 3, 2021.
Editor-in-Chief of the local daily Vientiane Times, Thonglor Duangsavanh, told Xinhua on Monday that the cross-border passenger service will greatly promote Laos' national socio-economic development, adding that the cross-border service facilitates people-to-people exchanges between the two neighbors.
"That's going to be a proud moment for the Lao people since it will be a historic milestone in the cooperation between Laos and China. Moreover, Lao people can travel to China more conveniently by using the railway," said Thonglor.
The first cross-border passenger service between Vientiane and Kunming will be launched ahead of the Lao New Year holiday, which falls on April 14-16.
Passengers can buy train tickets for cross-border service starting on Tuesday via the Laos-China Railway Company (LCRC) ticketing mobile app, which allows passengers to book and manage their journeys on mobile phones, according to the LCRC.
The start of cross-border passenger service on the China-Laos Railway has also made the headlines on social media in Laos, with the public expressing their excitement.
"I am ready to travel to China by train!" "Welcome Chinese visitors to Laos! We hope you enjoy staying here," said Lao netizens.
"I hope the cross-border passenger train will help Lao people, especially students, save time and money when traveling to China to study."
"Very good news! The railway is fast and cost-effective. Traveling to China will be more convenient now."
The China-Laos Railway, which began operation in December 2021, has offered domestic passenger services, while trains regularly carry freight across the Laos-China border.
The Lao government is taking steps to prepare for the start of the cross-border passenger service on the China-Laos Railway to ensure the safe and smooth travel of all travelers.