Vientiane–Boten railway

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Vientiane–Boten Railway
StatusUnder construction
Planned opening2021
Line length414[2] km (257 mi)
Number of tracks1
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead line
Operating speed160 km/h (passengers)
120 km/h (cargo)[1]

The Vientiane–Boten Railway is a 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge that runs for 414 kilometres (257 mi) between the capital of Laos, Vientiane and Boten on the border between China and Laos, that will be connected to Chinese rail system by Yuxi–Mohan railway. It will be majority-owned by China, financed by Chinese funds, and built by China Railway Group.[1][3]


Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, which hinders trade of goods. A railway link through Laos would greatly reduce cargo transit times and transportation costs between Laos and China. The railway would also be a link in the Kunming–Singapore railway network, as well as a program within the One Belt One Road Initiative.


The first talks about the railway linking Laos and China were in 2001, Laotian and Chinese politicians both confirmed the plans in 2009. After the corruption scandal of China's minister of railways Liu Zhijun, the start of construction was delayed until early 2016.[4] The railway is built to China’s GB Grade 1 standard (suitable for 160 km/h passenger and 120 km/h freight trains), construction began at Luang Prabang on December 25, 2016.


The cost of the project is estimated at 5.95 billion US dollars, to be financed 12% by Laos directly, 28% by China, with the remaining 60% being financed by loans.[4]


47% of the railway will be in tunnels and 15% will pass over viaducts, spread over 75 tunnels and 167 bridges.[4] As of 2017 year end, the construction phase is 20% completed.[5] There are 32 planned stations along the route.[6] The final station would be Thanaleng railway station, not Vientiane Station (under construction). Full construction details superimposed on a satellite map can be seen at Design for Conservation (slow website).[7]

A new bridge will be constructed by 2023 from Thanaleng to Nong khai to connect the high speed rail network into Thailand.


  1. ^ a b c "Laos-China railway brings changes to Laos". China Daily. 7 August 2017.
  2. ^ "China-Laos railway project set to be complete by late 2021". People's Daily. 20 November 2017.
  3. ^ "China-Laos railway on track as project set to be completed in 2021, despite challenges". 13 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Land-locked Laos on track for controversial China rail link". 24 July 2017.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Everything You Need to Know About the Laos-China Railway". 2017-02-20. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  7. ^

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