Laos and Thailand jointly held a ceremony on February 20 on the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge to connect the two stretches of the historic railway linking Vientiane, the capital of Laos, to the Thai town of Nongkhai.
The 3.5 km railway stretch on the Lao side, from the Friendship Bridge to Dong Phosy village in Hadsaifong district which is being constructed with a grant from Thailand, is over 80% completed and expected to be finished in April.
Lao officials have said they plan to build a border market and a warehouse on a 50-hectare lot to support the railway station at Tha Nalaeng, and to accommodate the ongoing growth in trade between the two neighbors. The border market and the warehouse are expected to be completed and open for business by 2010, as part of the planned celebration commemorating the 450th anniversary of the founding of Vientiane.
Lao officials added that this historic railway will be extended southward and then eastward to the Vietnamese town of Vinh via Thakek in central Laos. The stretch from Thakek to the Vietnamese border will be a 446-km track via Nhommalath on Route 12.
This Thakek-Vinh project will begin after the completion of the railway connecting Dong Phosy village to Saysettha district, which is being designed and constructed with the assistance of the French government, and expected to be completed in eight months.
Lao authorities hope the railway link will facilitate and boost trade, communication and transport among the Greater Mekong Sub-region(GMS) countries.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.