China - Laos Railway is a large project that initiated in 2015 and is expected to finish within the next year. The railway will link the city of Kunming located in southwestern China with Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. The total length of the project will reach 414 kilometers and is considered a highly challenging attempt since it includes 198 kilometers of tunnels and 62 kilometers of bridges.
The railway is part of a larger endeavor that aims at connecting Kinming with Singapore through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.
Currently, Laos railway infrastructure is inadequate and cannot address the current demand for freight and travelers' transport. Moreover, the road network connecting China and Laos is obsolete while transportations via airplanes are expensive. The current project is expected to improve the conditions and highly boost the local economy.
The project was highly affected by the COVID-19 spread and construction works were halted. Fortunately, the conditions regarding the coronavirus outburst have ameliorated in China and engineering works may currently continue. On Saturday, April 25, 2020, the China Railway Group Limited (CREC) announced that the railway project is moving forwards at normal rates. The company has implemented certain measures to tackle the risk of infection and resumes the works normally.
According to recent updates, the beams that will support a major passage of the railway over the Mekong River, the 12th longest river in the world, have been successfully installed. The railway crosses the river twice.
The structure is considered the most complex and challenging bridge of the project. It has a total length of more than 1450 meters and consists of 28 prestressed T-beams (reinforced concrete structures shaped like a capital T) each measuring 32 meters in length and 6 spans continuous beams. The last of the T-beams was placed on April 23, 2020.
The Chinese firm is making a large effort to finish the bridge project (which is currently considered to be 80% complete) before the rainy season which will make the construction works more difficult.