The governments of Laos and Vietnam have vowed to seek financing to build a railway connecting Vientiane with the Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province.The two sides signed an agreement in Vientiane on February 24, pledging to work together to realise the planned project, known as the Vientiane-Vung Ang railway.
It is planned that the 555-km railway will run for 452 kilometres in Laos and 103 kilometres in Vietnam.In Vietnam the track will run from the Vung Ang seaport in Ha Tinh province through Quang Binh province to the Lao border in central Khammuan province. It will continue on to Vientiane
through Borikhamxay province.The railway will cross the Laos-Vietnam border near the Naphao-Chalor crossing in Khammuan and Quang Binh provinces.
Each side pledged to seek financing for the stretch of railway on its soil, according to the agreement on exploring the potential to bring the project to fruition.Finance could be sought from the state and private sectors as well as a low-interest loan through official development assistance, and other possible sources, the agreement states.The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) supported a feasibility study of the railway, which has been completed.The Lao and Vietnamese governments have agreed to refer to the study.
It was reported previously that construction of the railway could cost at least US$5 billion including more than US$1.5 billion to build the section in Vietnam. The railway and a planned expressway to link Vientiane with the Vietnamese capital Hanoi are part of the cooperation framework between Laos and Vietnam until 2030.
The railway will be a huge boost to the government’s efforts to turn Laos from a landlocked country into a land link and gain access to sea trade routes via the Vung Ang seaport, which the Lao and Vietnamese governments have agreed to jointly develop.
A source with the Laos-Vietnam cooperation committee told Vientiane Times the Vietnamese side is in the process of transferring up to 60 percent of shares in the Vung Ang seaport project to the Lao side. Vietnam agreed that Laos should hold a majority stake in the project in accordance with a
request made by Laos.
The Vientiane-Vung Ang railway is a key infrastructure project within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). It will connect Laos and Vietnam and also intersect with the Singapore-Kunming (China) railway. Meanwhile, construction of the Laos-China railway, which is part of the
Singapore-Kunming railway, is about 60 percent complete.