Savan-Laobao railway corridor approved

Date: 15, Apr, 2016   Time: 9:32 am

A new corridor for the planned railway linking Savannakhet province with the Vietnamese border has been approved to replace the previously-proposed corridor.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport approved the new corridor on Monday after it was reported that the previous route would have unacceptable social and environmental impacts.

Officials in charge and project developers met in Savannakhet province on Monday to discuss the survey results of the new corridor after which they approved the route, according to the Lao Economic Daily, citing a report presented at the meeting.

Using the new corridor, the 220 km railway will be built in parallel with National Road No. 9, with an average distance of about 30 metres between them.

Malaysian investor Giant Consolidated Limited signed an agreement with the Lao government in 2012 for the US$5 billion project to link Savannakhet province with the Dansavanh-Lao checkpoint at the Vietnamese border. The 50- year concession can be extended if agreed to by the relevant parties.

A survey of the first proposed route showed that the railway would cause considerable social and environmental impacts so a second survey was carried out on a new route, according to the report.

The meeting entrusted technical officials to finalise the outcome of the talks and submit the new recommendation to the government for approval.

Once the government approves the new corridor, the developers will make detailed plans and carry out an environmental assessment prior to seeking approval from the ministry to start the project.

It is expected that it will take five years to build the railway, but it is not yet known when construction might begin.

According to the plan, the railway will have a double-track standard gauge of 1.435 metres and 11 stations. Some 40 metres of land along each side of the railway will be fenced off for safety reasons.

Trains will be able to run at a maximum speed of 160 km per hour.

The track will link with other three railways, whose construction the Lao government will pursue as part of efforts to convert Laos from a landlocked into a land-link country.

The first of these railways is the 418-km track linking Vientiane to the Chinese border, for which a groundbreaking ceremony took place in December. This section will form part of the Kunming-Singapore rail network.

The second planned project is the Vientiane–Thakhaek– Muya railway that will link the Kunming-Singapore route in Vientiane to the Vietnamese border over a distance of 450km, and another railway that will link Khammuan province to Vangtao in Champassak province on the border with Thailand.

Source: Vientiane Times Issue 65 (17 March 2016)