Workers began laying tracks on China first direct high-speed rail link to Vietnam on Tuesday. A track-laying machine laid a 500-meter track, domestic media CGTN reported.
The railway between Fangchenggang and Dongxing in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region covers a distance of 46.9 kilometers (km) and has a design speed of 200 km per hour. Infrastructure is being built with the conditions for a future increase in travel speed to 250 km/h.
The rail corridor will facilitate and speed up travel between the Beibu Bay Economic Zone and the Greater Bay Area and ASEAN markets. On the Fangchenggang-Dongxing Railway, all tracks are expected to be laid by the end of September and the railway could be put into operation by the end of December.
The railway will reduce travel time between the two locations from 60 minutes to 20 minutes and will connect the border city of Dongxing with the country’s vast 42,000 km high-speed rail network.
The China-Laos Railway is currently China’s main rail artery to ASEAN. In its first 20 months of operation, the railway handled 19 million passengers and 23 million tons of cargo, according to China Railway.
From January 1 to August 3, the railway handled 2.5 million tonnes of cross-border cargo, boosting the flow of goods including tropical fruits, iron ore, cassava flour and rubber.
The success of the China-Laos Railway inspired other regional countries. Calls are growing in Vietnam to build a north-south express railway to connect its capital, Hanoi, with Ho Chi Minh City.
In November last year, China and Vietnam announced joint efforts to speed up the Lao Cai-Hanoi-Haiphong railway project and called for the timely conclusion of the Lao Cai-Hanoi-Haiphong standard gauge railway planning review, negotiations to revise the 1992 bilateral railway agreement and consensus on connection plan.
Chinese experts see the move as the end of Vietnam’s decades-long hesitancy over whether it would be better to connect with China using a standard-gauge railway system, which is different from the country’s meter-gauge railway.