Another step closer to completing the Bangkok to Kumming train line

12 July 2020: This week saw the start of the construction of new railway station in Vientiane. The Laos Government is aiming to have completed the station and be running high speed train services between Vientiane and Kumming in China by the 2nd December 2021 to coincide with the 46th Anniversary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party taking over the government of Laos.

Bangkok to Kumming Train Line Project

Work on creating a train link between Bangkok and Kumming in China has been on going for several years now as part of a wider Pan Asia Railway Network plan led by the Chinese Government. The aim of the project is to link Kumming to Singapore by high speed train via three routes connecting many parts of South East Asia with China. The section of track between Vientiane and Kumming is being built and funded by the Chinese government, whilst a new high speed railway line between Bangkok and Nong Khai (and then connecting to the line through Laos) is being funded by the Thai Government and built in partnership with Chinese engineering companies.

Vientiane to China

Of the two sections of the Bangkok to Kumming Railway Line, there has been more progress on constructing the line between Kumming and Vientiane than there has been on section from Bangkok and Nong Khai, despite it being a more difficult project. The major issue with trying to connect Kumming to Vientiane is that Northern Laos is extremely hilly. The project involves constructing hundreds of tunnels and bridges as well as the track itself. There fewer such obstacles to cross over or under on the route from Bangkok to Nong Khai.

Railway tunnel under constuction in Northern Laos
Railway tunnel under constuction in Northern Laos

The Chinese government is working at a fast rate on the railway line and making good progress. There is a good chance that the Kumming to Vientiane line will be completed by the 2nd December 2021 deadline, but almost no chance that a high speed line from Vientiane to Bangkok will ready in time to connect with it.

Nong Khai to Vientiane

Construction of the high speed line between Bangkok and Nong Khai should start before the end of 2020 as the largest of 7 contract related to the project, representing 28.2% of the total budget, being put out to tender within the next few weeks. As part of an economic stimulus package the Thai Government is keen to start major infrastructure projects as quickly as possible and the high speed train project from Nong Khai to Bangkok is going to benefit from this ambitious attempt to return the country to economic growth though a programme of borrowing to fund large infrastructure projects. 

Viaduct under construction near Vang Vieng
Viaduct under construction near Vang Vieng

Given that the project, which is the first high speed train service in Thailand, is only just about to begin it may be 3 or more years until the direct service from Kumming to Bangkok is operatiional. The scenery on the route from Vientiane to Kumming, however, is so spectacular that in reality even if the line is only partially complete a lot of people are going to want to take the service as an experience in its own right they will still do so even if the complete journey to Bangkok takes a lot longer and involves transferring to a standard Thai train on the Nong Khai to Bangkok section of the train trip from Kumming. This route is going to become a tourist attraction as much as a transport service.

Buy Train Tickets Online

Use the Search Box to buy your train tickets from Bangkok to Nong Khai on the border with Laos:

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For through tickets to Vientiane change the destination in the Search Box to ‘Vientiane’.

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