China-Laos railway holes all 75 tunnels

VIENTIANE, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) — Xiang Ngeun No. 3 Tunnel, the last tunnel along the China-Laos Railway in Luang Prabang Province, some 210 km north of Lao capital Vientiane, was drilled through on Tuesday.

So far, all the 75 tunnels across the China-Laos Railway have been holed. The successful completion of the tunnels indicates that the controlling factors affecting the China-Laos railway project have basically been removed.

It also indicates that the China-Laos Railway is shifting from the large-scale civil engineering stage to station construction and installation, to the preparation for operation and management.

The China-Laos Railway crosses the Mekong River twice, passing through two some-60-km tropical forest mountain areas, with complex geology and harsh construction environment such as steep terrain, turbulent rivers, broken rock formations, frequent water and mud inrush in tunnels.

According to the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd., a joint venture based in Vientiane responsible for the construction and operation of the railway, since the start of construction in December 2016, all participating engineering firms from China and Laos have overcome difficulties in organizing construction resources and in materials and equipment supply.

However, the participants have managed to promote the project, especially when facing the risks of the COVID-19 epidemic, coordinating the deployment of construction resources, refining and optimizing construction organization.

By the end of September, the China-Laos railway has completed all tunnel construction, installed rail tracks of 148 km which is one third of the railway, and ceiled the top of its first station in Nateuy.

The China-Laos Railway is a strategic docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos’ strategy to convert from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub.

The 422-km railway, with 198-km-long 75 tunnels and 62-km bridges, will run from Boten border gate in northern Laos, bordering China, to Vientiane with an operating speed of 160 km per hour.

The electrified passenger and cargo railway is built with the full application of Chinese management and technical standards.

The project started in December 2016 and is scheduled to be completed and open to traffic in December 2021.