Laos-China rail freight transport soars by 500 per cent
Laos-China railway connection (Photo: China Railway Kunming Group)

The cross-border transport of freight on the Laos-China railway has increased by 500 per cent year-on-year, the China Daily and Vientiane Times reported. Since the beginning of this year, the railway has carried more than 600,000 metric tonnes of cross-border cargo, including 510,000 tonnes of imported cargo, accounting for the 500 per cent increase, the report stated, citing the China Railway Kunming Group.

As of Feb 22, 15.6 million tonnes of cargo had been transported via the railway since it opened for service in December 2021. Of that, 12.2 million tonnes were destined for domestic locations, while 3.4 million tonnes were transported to overseas destinations, and 2.98 million tonnes were transported across the Laos-China border.

The 1,035-km railway links Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan province, to the Lao capital of Vientiane.

Cross-border freight trains travel between the two countries every day. They transport goods such as electronics, vegetables and flowers from China to Laos, while bringing fruit such as bananas, durian and longan from South and South-East Asian countries, along with other products.

Twenty-five provincial-level regions across China have operated cross-border freight trains on the railway, covering countries that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative, namely Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Singapore, according to the China Daily.

Recently, the first rail shipment of goods departed Kunming for Bangkok in Thailand via Laos, taking just 55 hours to arrive in the Thai capital.

Thanks to the railway, Viengkhone Sitthixay, the Vice President of Vientiane Logistics Park Co, Ltd., which operates the Thanaleng Dry Port in Vientiane, believes that the amount of freight shipped by various countries through the port will see a huge increase this year.

The number of containers processed through the dry port, which houses extensions of the Laos-China and Laos-Thailand railways, is expected to rise by 200 percent year-on-year from just over 40,000 to 120,000 containers this year.

Speedy shipment combined with cost-effective services is making rail transport increasingly attractive, the dry port developer said.

The China Railway Kunming Group said it is encouraging stronger communication and coordination with customs officers to improve port clearance efficiency in order to smooth the delivery of imports and exports. The time required from declaration to customs clearance has been reduced from 40 hours to less than five hours.

Meanwhile, the categories of goods traded have expanded from just 10 initially to more than 1,200 at present, including electronics, photovoltaic products, and cold chain fruit.