China-Laos Railway Starts Cross-border Passenger Service

At 8:08 am on April 13th Beijing time, the first D887 train with cross-border services on the China-Laos Railway departed from Kunming South and headed to Vientiane, Laos. From today on, the China-Laos Railway will offer cross-border passenger service from Kunming South, enabling same-day travel from Kunming to Vientiane by train. The China-Laos railway has become a path of development, happiness, and friendship for the people of China and Laos.


The first D887 train from Kunming South to Vientiane departs. Photo by Shangguan Yanjun. 

At Kunming South Station, the reporter saw the international passenger ticket checking point set up for the China-Laos Railway. In the rest area, there are six signs indicating the clearance process (exit/entry).

It is reported that the cross-border trains of the China-Laos Railway adopt a pattern of daily round-trip operation, departing in the morning and arriving in the evening. Heading south, the train stops at eight stations including Kunming South, Pu'er, Xishuangbanna, Mohan, Boten, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, and Vientiane. The total travel time including customs clearance time is 10 hours and 30 minutes. It is possible to reach Vientiane on the same day from Kunming. The D887 from Kunming South to Vientiane departs at 8:08 am Beijing time and arrives in Vientiane at 6:38 pm on the same day; the D888 from Vientiane to Kunming South departs at 9:08 am Beijing time and arrives in Kunming South at 7:38 pm on the same day.

Railway workers dressed in ethnic costumes welcome passengers boarding the China-Laos Railway. 

The cross-border trains will use the "Fuxing" and "Lancang" high-speed trains with a maximum operating speed of 160 kilometers per hour. This includes one power carriage, one first-class seating carriage, one dining carriage, and six second-class seating carriages, with a total capacity of 720 passengers. Under each seat, there are power sockets that comply with both Chinese and Laotian standards, and passenger information displays, announcements, and service signs available in Chinese, Laotian, and English languages. During the initial operation of the trains, the railway departments of the two countries will flexibly adjust the cross-border and non-cross-border carriages according to the cross-border passenger flow and sell tickets accordingly on corresponding sections.

Railway workers dressed in ethnic costumes offer water blessings to passengers. Photo by Yang Zixuan. 

The cross-border trains adopt the "two places, two checks" clearance mode. Taking Train D887 as an example, the specific clearance process is that when the train arrives at the Chinese railway port station, Mohan Station, cross-border passengers must carry all their luggage and enter the exit and entry joint inspection area to cooperate with Chinese customs officers to complete the exit and entry joint check, then return to the train to continue their journey. After the train runs to the Lao railway port station, Boten Station, passengers must get off with all their luggage, enter the entry and exit joint inspection area, cooperate with Lao customs officers to complete the entry and exit joint check. For passengers arriving at Boten Station, they can directly leave the station, while for passengers arriving at other stations in Laos, they need to return to the train to continue their journey. The clearance process for Train D888 is the same as above. Passengers need about 1.5 hours for each exit and entry clearance, and a total of about 3 hours for both exit and entry port clearance.


Passengers boarded the train, ready to start their journey in Laos. Photo by Shangguan Yanjun. 

"I saw on the news a few days ago that the China-Laos Railway will operate cross-border trains. I immediately tried to grab tickets and was able to get the first train tickets. I am so happy! Taking the high-speed rail has high cost-effectiveness and you can also enjoy the scenery on the way. The experience is great," said Ms. Wang, a tourist from Hebei. She is planning to take her family to visit relatives in Laos and stay there for a few more days.

"China is so powerful now that the high-speed train can go directly to foreign countries! Before, we used to go abroad by plane. This is the first time we take the high-speed train, which is so meaningful." After knowing that the international passenger train of China-Laos Railway was about to open, 76-year-old Lu Quanfei and his friends immediately formed a team to embark on this different journey. "We go directly to Vientiane, so convenient. Along the way, we can enjoy the scenery along the 'Belt and Road' and experience the local customs. It's really exciting!"


On the cross-border train, railway staff brought wonderful song and dance performances for passengers. Photo by Yang Zixuan. 

A young couple started excitedly discussing which attractions to visit in Luang Prabang as soon as they got on the train. "We'll spend these two days celebrating the Water Splashing Festival in the city first, then we'll visit all the famous local tourist spots," Li Jin said. Li Jin has a strong connection with the China-Laos Railway, as he was once involved in the construction of the Vientiane Station. As one of the tens of thousands of workers who worked hard at the front line of the China-Laos Railway, he still feels proud of his participation in such a great international project. Their trip to Luang Prabang this time is also a dream come true for him, as he promised to take his wife on the first international passenger train of the China-Laos Railway to revisit the place where he used to work and live when he left home to work in Laos. "This is the unique romance of engineers like us. I fulfilled my promise to my wife," he said proudly.

The teachers from the Laos Railway Vocational and Technical College arrived on the inaugural cross-border train. 

Teachers from the Laos Railway Vocational and Technical College also boarded the cross-border train. "It's really exciting to take a direct train to Vientiane. In the morning, I was in Kunming, and in the evening, I can already be home in Vientiane," said Laotian teacher Chen Shangde.

As the development of the China-Laos Railway continues to improve and the role of the international gateway becomes increasingly prominent, Laos teacher Li Lingmei feels that her responsibility has become greater. She is more determined to become a railway teacher. As one of the first professional railway teachers trained at the Kunming Railway Vocational and Technical College, after returning to Laos, they will shoulder the important task of cultivating railway talents in Laos. The convenience and efficiency brought by the opening of the China-Laos Railway cross-border train has made them more ambitious about the development and future of Laos.

A joyful trip for Lao exchange student Ditthixay sipaseuth. Photo by Ding Xueqing. 

Laotian student Ditthixay sipaseuth also boarded this train and became a little anchor for the first time. "Here is Kunming, where the climate is like spring all year round, and I really like the flowers and plants here; now we are arriving at Pu'er Station, where there is famous Pu'er tea and purple rice; we have now arrived at Xishuangbanna Station, where the climate is as hot as Laos; now we have arrived at Mohan Station, which is the closest station to Laos. From here, you can handle relevant documents and continue to take the China-Laos Railway to Laos after passing the security check..." He introduced the opening of the cross-border train to netizens in Lao language and shared his own travel experience.

"The speed of the high-speed railway is truly faster than I imagined. It only took over 4 hours to travel from Kunming to Mohan." Ditthixay sipaseuth enjoyed the speed of the "Fuxinghao" on the China-Laos Railway and also liked the atmosphere inside the train. He was impressed by the overall cleanliness, spaciousness, comfort, and attentive service on the train.

On the China-Laos Railway cross-border train, railway staff bring wonderful song and dance performances to the passengers. Photo by Yang Zixuan 

It is reported that in order to prepare for the launch of the cross-border trains, Kunming Railway Bureau of China Railway Corporation has arranged in advance and selected 27 crew members to serve.

The crew member of the cross-border train. Photo by Yang Zixuan. 

The uniform of the train attendants is a specially designed "Silk Road Flower" themed uniform. The refreshing and eye-catching peacock blue represents China and Laos, sharing the same blue sky and the same river. The accessories of the uniform also have some unique designs. The attendant's hairpin is a magnolia flower symbolizing purity and friendship, and the silk scarf worn is still primarily in a water blue tone, with the edges printed with intersecting lines in red and green for "Fuxing" and red and blue for "Lancang". The scarf is tied into a knot, symbolizing a knot of friendship and the blooming of a flower of friendship. The attendants can provide service for passengers in Chinese, English, and Laotian languages.

Since its opening on December 3, 2021, the China-Laos Railway has demonstrated a thriving trend in both passenger and freight transportation. As of April 12, the China section of the railway has sent a total of 11.88 million passengers, while the Laos section has sent 2.2 million passengers, with a total of 3.63 million tons of cross-border goods transported. The operation of cross-border trains on the China-Laos Railway is of great significance in facilitating the travel of people along the line, promoting the development of tourism and other industries in both countries, and promoting bilateral economic and trade exchanges and high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative.

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(Editors: Christine, Amy)

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