Thailand, Malaysia plan rail network to connect four ASEAN countries and China

A Laos-Thailand railway train (left) recently arrived to pick up empty containers at the Thanaleng dry port, which would be loaded with Thai goods to be shipped to China via Laos. | PHOTO: Vientiane Times/Asia News Network

VIENTIANE — Thailand’s transport ministry is working with its Malaysian partner to develop a high-speed rail network that will connect four member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, according to a report by the media.

Permanent Secretary for Transport Chayatan Phromsorn met with his Malaysian counterpart Isham Ishak and companies from the neighboring country to discuss ways to join in the construction of a railway linking the two countries, Vietnam+ reported, citing local media. .

Malaysia had previously requested a high-speed rail link with Thailand as a transit point to link up with Laos and China. Laos and China have jointly operated the Laos-China Railway since December 3, 2021.

According to media reports, the Thai and Malaysian sides have discussed the project and Malaysia has accepted Thailand’s idea of ​​establishing a joint working group to discuss a railway network linking China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

The panel was tasked with putting together a plan by the next ASEAN meeting to discuss transportation issues.

The Malaysian officials arrived after Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob issued a follow-up order to the Feb. 25 talks between Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail.

As expected, Thai authorities will visit Vientiane later this month to discuss the extension of the Laos-China railway to Thailand.
The negotiations will take place from August 30 to September 1 and will focus on connecting the railway from Vientiane to the Thai province of Nong Khai.

Extensions of the Laos-China Standard Gauge Railway and the Laos-Thailand One Meter Gauge Railway have been installed inside Thanaleng Dry Port near the Mekong River in Laos, to facilitate the transfer of freight.

Companies are eyeing the opportunities offered by the cost-effective logistics and transportation services offered by the railways and the dry port, which is an important gateway between ASEAN and China. SCG Logistics Management, Thailand’s leading provider of integrated domestic and international logistics services, said the new transport route integrating the Laos-China Railway could cut costs by up to 20 percent, according to Thailand’s Bangkok Post.

SCG Logistics Management recently unveiled the new logistics route using the Laos-China Railway. The Thailand-Laos-China route is expected to generate 650 million baht in revenue in 2022. This will be driven by lower-cost services and simplified one-stop customs clearance for imports and exports.

With the operation of the railways, the travel time between Chiang Rai and Kunming can be shortened from two days to about 10 to 15 hours compared to road transport, said general manager of SCG Logistics Management Paitoon Jiranantarat, quoted by the Bangkok Post. . Compared to ocean freight, logistics costs can be reduced by up to 20 percent for shipping to destinations such as Kunming, Chengdu and Chongqing in China, he added.

The Thailand-Laos-China rail route allows the transport of all types of products, including food, fruits and vegetables, consumer goods, construction equipment and many other items.

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