|Type||High Speed Rail|
|Locale||China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore|
|Line length||3,900 km (2,400 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Kunming–Singapore Railway is a proposed railway that would connect Southwest China and Southeast Asia by rail. The line would run from Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan Province of China through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore, with alternate routes through Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. A railroad from southern China through Indochina to Malaya was originally proposed by British and French colonialists in the early 20th century. In October 2006, the Kunming–Singapore Railway became one of the Trans-Asian Railways set forth under the Trans-Asian Railway Network Agreement signed by 17 Asian and Eurasian countries and would form part of the Iron Silk Road a transcontinental network of railways across Eurasia, promoted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
The southern half of the railway from Thailand to Singapore has long been operational. Construction efforts within China has begun. Work on the Laotian section of the line was set to begin in April 2011 with Chinese assistance, but the project was delayed at the last minute. The line is expected to be completed in 2020.
Building a line between Singapore and Kunming has been proposed for more than a century - with the British and French colonialists originally proposing the line in 1900 after the partial completion of the Trans-Siberian railway.
In 1904-1910, the Yunnan–Vietnam Railway was constructed by the French, connecting Kunming with Hanoi and Haiphong in French Tonkin, now northern Vietnam. In 1936, Vietnam's main railway, from Hanoi to Saigon was opened as well. This French-built system was (and still is) metre-gauge.
In 1918, the southern line of the Thailand railway system was connected with British Malaya's west coast line, thus completing a through metre gauge rail link from Bangkok to Singapore. The Thai railways were connected with the rail line in Cambodia in 1942, forming a through connection from Bangkok to Phnom Penh; however; the transborder connection has long been disused. In any event, the continuous metre-gauge rail line from Singapore to Kunming via Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Saigon and Hanoi never materialized, as the French never built the "missing link" between Phnom Penh and Saigon, choosing to build a highway instead.
In 2000 ASEAN proposed building a 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi) railway from Singapore to Kunming, along the same route from Singapore to Bangkok, from there onto the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, and then to Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon) and Hanoi in Vietnam.
In 2004 ASEAN and China proposed a shorter route, which, instead of running via Cambodia and Vietnam, would go north from Bangkok through Myanmar to Kunming in China. In 2007 ASEAN and China proposed building three routes, via Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar to connect China with South East Asia.
In September 2010 the Malaysian government discussed plans to build a high-speed rail line between Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Most of this line would be on the proposed route between Singapore and Kunming.
On 25 April 2011 construction was due to start on a new high speed railway between Kunming and Vientiane in Laos though it was delayed at the last minute. Press reports suggest that the ground will be broken on the project in August 2013. The line will eventually be extended from Vientiane through Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore and reach a total of 3,900 kilometres (2,400 mi). The section within Laos from the Chinese border to Vientiane will be 421 km.
As the terrain in Laos is mountainous 165 bridges and 69 tunnels will need to be built. Unexploded bombs that have been dropped during the Vietnam War will have to be removed. The 421 km (262 mi) line from the Chinese border to Vientiane will cost US$7 billion. There is also controversy over villagers whose houses will have to be moved to accommodate the new railway line. One village, Bopiat in northern Laos, has already been moved once to allow the construction of a casino.
Construction started on the Chinese side in May 2011.
When the line is complete it will take around 10 hours to travel from Kunming to Singapore by rail. As of April 2011[update] it takes 72 hours to travel from Singapore to Vientiane by train, and there is no railway between Vientiane and Kunming.
When the line is finished it will be used by tourists but it will be primarily used for transporting cargo. The railway will also improve China's economic ties with South East Asia. The diconnected link from Phnom Penh to Saigon will be reconsidered. The cost for construction is estimated around $600 million and the Chinese government will fund most proportion of construction. The Cambodian government will deal with relocation of people who will effected by the proposed new railway construction.
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