Laos opens Chinese-built railway line

Laos opens Chinese-built railway line

Women pose next to a train during a Buddhist ceremony at Vientiane Station on Thursday, one day prior to the handover ceremony of the high-speed rail project linking the Chinese southwestern city of Kunming with Vientiane. (Reuters photo)
Women pose next to a train during a Buddhist ceremony at Vientiane Station on Thursday, one day prior to the handover ceremony of the high-speed rail project linking the Chinese southwestern city of Kunming with Vientiane. (Reuters photo)

Laos is set to open a US$6 billion Chinese-built railway on Friday, with debt concerns balanced against hopes it could boost the country's struggling economy.

The 414-kilometre route took five years to construct under China's trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.

Analysts have acknowledged the potential economic boost, but have queried how infrastructure-poor Laos will pay its $1.06 billion debt -- and whether it is ready for the state-of-the-art transport system.

Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith is expected to hold virtual talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, with both expected to deliver speeches at the official opening ceremony.

The route will connect the Chinese city of Kunming to the Lao capital Vientiane, with plans for high-speed rail to ultimately cut down through Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore.

The communist-run country of 7.2 million people previously had only four kilometres of railway tracks.

But now trains will speed along the new line at up to 160 kilometres per hour, passing through 75 tunnels and across 167 bridges, stopping at 10 passenger stations.

Passenger services are expected to begin on Saturday, state media reported, although only for those fully vaccinated.

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Vocabulary

  • acknowledge: to let someone know you have received something or the you understand what it is - รับทราบ
  • boost: something that helps or encourages somebody/something - สิ่งกระตุ้น
  • communist (adj): based on the principles of communism -
  • debt (noun): an amount of money that you owe - หนี้, นี้สิน
  • economic (adj): connected with the trade, industry and development of wealth of a country, an area or a society - เกี่ยวกับเศรษฐกิจ, ในทางเศรษฐศาสตร์
  • infrastructure: a set of systems within a place or organisation that affect how well it operates, e.g., the telephone and transport systems in a country or the system of train tracks that a railway uses - สาธารณูปโภค
  • initiative: a new action or movement, often intended to solve a problem - ความคิดริเริ่ม
  • potential: possible in the future - ที่อาจเป็นไปได้
  • previously: before -
  • speech (n): a formal talk delivered to an audience -
  • state: government - รัฐบาล
  • tunnel: an underground passage through which vehicles travel - อุโมงค์
  • virtual (adj): made to appear to exist by the use of computer software, for example on the Internet - เสมือน
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