Bangkok-Beijing High-Speed Rail: Thailand To Test Bangkok-Vientiane Train Service

V Bhagya Subhashini

Jun 17, 2024, 12:42 PM | Updated 12:42 PM IST

High-Speed Railway
High-Speed Railway

In a significant step towards establishing train travel between Thailand's Bangkok and China's Beijing, Thailand will conduct a trial rail service between Bangkok and Laos' Vientiane on 13 and 14 July. This initiative lays the groundwork for an extensive rail network stretching from Bangkok to Beijing.

The new service aims to integrate Thailand with the existing Laos-China rail network, a key component of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

With the inauguration of the Thailand-Laos rail link, trains from Bangkok will now be able to make stops in Vientiane and Kunming, southern China. From Kunming, travellers can continue their journey on a semi-high-speed service to Beijing.

Given the mountainous terrain and the distance involved, the approximately 2,000-mile (3,218-kilometre) journey will take nearly a full day, compared to about five hours by non-stop flight.

The high-speed train currently operating between China and Laos has already reduced the transportation time for Thai goods to Kunming from two days to just 15 hours, highlighting the potential for efficient trade routes.

Ekarat Sriarayanphong, an official at the SRT, stated that this new rail link will enhance transportation connectivity between Thailand, Laos, and China, promoting economic and tourism ties across the region, according to a report by Hindustan Times.

Improving rail connectivity with China, Thailand's primary trade partner, is seen as a strategic move to boost its economic growth. Last year, Thailand exported almost $32 billion worth of goods to China, including fruit and rubber products. In contrast, imports from China totalled $65.3 billion, dominated by electric equipment and machinery.

The countries are also strengthening tourism ties, having removed tourist visa requirements. Chinese tourists can now stay in Thailand for up to 60 days, while Thai tourists can stay in China for 30 days.

Plans are in place to complete a high-speed rail system connecting Thailand to China through Laos by 2028, a development expected to further enhance tourism and trade between the nations.

V Bhagya Subhashini is a staff writer at Swarajya. She tracks infrastructure developments.

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