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China to Laos Bullet Train Service Launched

Kunming to Vientiane Bullet Train

China has launched a China to Laos Bullet Train service, which uses electric multiple units or an EMU train to run between Kunming, southwestern China's Yunnan province, and Vientiane.

This service will operate from Kunming to Vientiane and will begin in December 2021, where Laos will receive its first modern train in railway history.

This is a joint venture project between China and Laos, where the company is the Laos-China Railway Co. Ltd. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Laos.

China to Laos Bullet Train Service

Vientiane Kunming Bullet Train

Under the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd., a special handover ceremony was held with the Chinese Ambassador to Laos - Jiang Zaidong and Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Viengsavath Siphandone.

The bullet train or EMU has also been named Lane Xang and will be put into the upcoming railway trial run. Laos was once called the Lane Xang (million elephants) Kingdom. It is also named by the Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh.

Lane Xang is also known as Lancang, the name of the upper section of the Mekong River in China, and this symbolizes the China-Laos relationship as good neighbours, good friends, good comrades and good partners.

Launching Kunming Vientiane Bullet Train Event
Jiang Zaidong and Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Viengsavath Siphandone.

The official launching of the Lane Xang EMU Bullet Train is also scheduled to take place on 2nd December, which is also Lao National Day.

The track construction of the China-Laos railway was also completed in Mengla County of the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, which is near a land port on the China-Laos border.

Construction of the US$5.986 billion (37.4 billion yuan) railway began in December 2016, and on Oct 6 2021, the China-Laos railway station opened in Vientiane and is the largest and most important station on the China-Laos Railway; it was built by the China Railway Construction Group.

The Vientiane railway station has three platforms with five-track lines and two additional platforms with two lines reserved.

Bullet Train from China to Laos
One of the many beautiful bridges along the China-Laos railway.

How Long is the Bullet Train Journey from Kunming to Vientiane? 

According to the China State Railway Group, the train departs from Kunming in the morning and would arrive in Vientiane in the evening on the same day.

With this new train line and EMU bullet train system, the journey from Kunming to Laos will be cut by two days to just half a day.

There are 167 tunnels along the China-Laos railway, with the total length of the tunnels adding up to over 590 km.

It also accounts for 63 per cent of the railway's total, which runs through the India-Eurasia plate collision zone, which features crisscrossing valleys and rivers.

The railway line will also cut the travel time between Kunming and Jinghong, a city on the border with Laos, to just over three hours.

The 422.4-km railway runs from Vientiane to the Chinese border through Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha, passing through 75 tunnels with a combined length of 197.83km.

There are also 10 passenger stations: Vientiane, Phonhong, Vangvieng, Kasy, Luang Prabang, Nga, Xay, Namor, Nateuy and Boten. There are also 22 stations for the loading and unloading of freight.

Bullet Train Lane Xang
A low angle shot of the bullet train.

Bullet Train from Laos to China
The EMU was named Lane Xang. Photo by THX.

Lane Xang EMU Bullet Train Information

The Lane Xang EMU is made by CRRC Qingdao Sifang and CRRC Dalian, subsidiaries of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp.

The train is designed to suit the line and feature advanced technology, safety, ample passenger capacity and low operating costs and also based on the Fuxing bullet train.

The bullet train is painted in the Lao flag colours of red, blue, and white. At the same time, the interior design integrates elements of traditional Chinese and Lao cultures, embodying the Lao people's vision of a better life and the friendship between the two peoples.

The maximum operating speed of the bullet train is 160 km per hour and consists of nine carriages, including a locomotive, a dining coach, a first-class and six second-class coaches, and provides 720 seats altogether.

Dining Coach Lane Xang Bullet Train
The interior of the dining coach of the train. Photo by LCR.

Bullet Train Coach Lane Xang
Inside the passenger coach of the bullet train. Photo by LCR.

Passenger Coach Lane Xang Bullet Train
Another coach of the train in maroon colours. Photo by LCR.

Lane Xang Bullet Train Information

The Lane Xang train has nine carriages, including a locomotive compartment, a dining car, a first-class coach car and six second-class coach cars.

Instructions and broadcasting will be provided in three languages-Chinese, Laotian and English. The carriages also have facilities such as bathrooms for handicapped travellers and braille guide signs to benefit passengers with special needs.

Passenger Coaches - The air-conditioned carriages are spacious with comfortable seats installed with power outlets suitable for Chinese and Laotian plug standards that are provided under each seat.

Dining Coach - The dining coach is well equipped to meet the needs of passengers for food and leisure; the screens, broadcasts and service signs are all in three languages of Chinese, Lao, and English.

Special Coach - The fourth carriage with barrier-free areas is equipped with special seats, handrails, toilets, SOS call buttons and Braille guide signs to facilitate the travel of disabled passengers.

Train Journey Vientiane to Kunming
The train tracks from Vientiane to Kunming.

Conclusion

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.

The construction of the fantastic project started in December 2016 and is scheduled to be fully completed and operational in December 2021.

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