Passengers will soon be able to travel from Kunming to Bangkok for only RMB700.00 (THB3,931), a third of the current airfare. That new cheaper mode of transportation will be a 840 kilometer trans China-Thai railway, which was announced over the weekend and is set to be completed in three years time.
Chinese state media outlet Xinhua says the new rail line should bring two million more Chinese tourists to Thailand annually, a marked increase to the already impressive 11 million travellers who venture there from the PRC each year. The line will also be a major artery for freight and goods between the two countries.
The railway will run through Laos, which famously lacks the infrastructure of its neighboring Thai and Chinese neighbors, leading its officials and researchers to call the new line a “blessing” because “Laos… is in urgent need of railroads.”
Radio Free Asia reports that China will train Laos officials ahead of the construction, and that the two nations will establish a company to coordinate that project, although financing for the initiative is still “up in the air”.
The train will move at 180km/h, which is slower than the previously planned 250km/h speed that Chinese officials announced at earlier meetings. Those initial negotiations did not go smoothly, and the Chinese officials’ decision to downgrade the project from a high speed railway to a medium speed line was considered a “setback” by many Thai onlookers. However, both sides said that the new arrangement was a “consensus” this summer , and that the reduced speed will help both nation’s save on costs.