Regular cross-border passenger traffic between Kunming and Vientiane began on April 13. A 1,024 km standard gauge route connecting Laos and China was opened in December 2021, but only freight trains could be used on this line due to China’s Covid-19 pandemic-related restrictions on international travel. It is reported by the Railway Supply magazine with reference to the Railway Gazette.


The first passenger traffic will be one train per day in each direction, connecting the two cities in 10.5 hours. Tickets are sold at stations in both countries and online.

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Services are operated using two nine-car EMUs supplied by CRRC Dalian, which can each carry 720 passengers. These are branded Lancang, or ‘million elephants’, after the historic kingdom which once embraced the upper region of the Mekong River.

The launch of passenger traffic will further facilitate cross-border travel and trade between China and Laos and accelerate the recovery of tourism and other sectors. As of early April, the China-Laos railway transported 18.4 million tons of cargo. Intermodal transportation by sea and rail in the first three months of this year amounted to 191,000 TEU, which is 11.7% more than in the same period in 2022.

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