LAOS: Laos-China Railway Co Ltd has awarded China Railway Group subsidiaries contracts for the civil works on sections I, II and III of the Boten – Vientiane railway.

The three contracts awarded to China Railway No 5 Engineering Group, China Railway International Group and China Railway No 8 Engineering Group on September 8 have a total value of 8·13bn yuan. China Railway No 2 Engineering Group had previously been awarded a 2·28bn yuan contract covering Section VI, meaning China Railway Group has won four of the six lots for the project.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in Vientiane in December 2015 to formally launch construction of the 414 km standard gauge line, which would start at Mohan on the China-Laos border and run south to the capital and the Thai border town of Nong Khai. There would be 31 stations, serving locations including the cities of Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng. The line would connect with China’s Yuxi – Mohan railway and Thailand’s metre-gauge line to Bangkok.

The single track electrified mixed traffic line is to be built to China’s GB Grade 1 standards, with the alignment suitable for 160 km/h passenger and 120 km/h freight services. The mountainous terrain will require 258·5 km of bridges and tunnels. The cost is estimated at 37·4bn yuan.

At present the only railway in Laos is a short metre-gauge branch of the Thai network which crosses the River Mekong from Nong Khai to reach a railhead at Tha Na Laeng.