Boring works have begun at the Boten end of the Tunnel.
Boring works have begun at the Boten end of the Tunnel.

Underground works underway on landmark Laos-China railway project

business April 22, 2017 01:00

By VIENTIANE TIMES
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
LUANG NAMTHA, LAOS

EFFORTS to bore tunnels for the Laos-China railway project have begun, marking a new and intensive stage to construction work underground for the landmark multi billion-dollar project.



As of Tuesday, more than 10 metres had been bored for the |Boten Tunnel, one of the three |tunnels in northern Luang Nam-|tha province servicing the rail |line, the provincial coordinator |for the project, Chanthachone Keolakhone, said Thursday following a visit to the construction site on Tuesday.

“Boring has begun at three points of the tunnel,” he said.

Chinese contractors commenced boring on the tunnels on April 8. 

He said boring machines are being installed and prepared to commence on the Laos-China Friendship Tunnel, which traverses the border underneath Lao and Chinese soil.

“Boring works on the Lao side of the Laos-China Friendship Tunnel should start soon,” he said.

Preparation is progressing to bore the Natuey Tunnel, he said.

Boring of tunnels in northern Luang Prabang province has also started, said Fasanan Thammavong, director of Public Works and Transport Department for the province.

The Oudomxay provincial coordinator for the project, Phonpadith Phommakit, said tunnel construction has been progressing and will be intensified now that celebrations for Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year) have been completed.

The commencement of boring comes as the US$5.8 billion (Bt199.4 billion) project’s developers seek to maximise progress before the rainy season starts.

The 417-kilometre railway pro-ject will link the Lao capital of Vientiane with the Chinese border through the four Lao provinces |of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha.

It composes 75 tunnels with a combined length of 197.83km.

Contractors are speeding up preparation works to begin boring the remaining tunnels to ensure the project finishes on time.

Scheduled for completion by 2021, Chinese engineers told Lao authorities that progress on boring tunnels before the rainy season was critical.

Workers could then continue construction inside the tunnels during the rainy season.

If not, the rain could delay construction.

The railway will form part of |the planned route from China’s Yunnan province to Singapore |via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia, adding significant impetus to |the Lao government’s effort to |hasten the transition of the country from being landlocked to land-linked.