A survey is being carried out in order to develop service businesses at railway stations along the 427 km Laos-China rail line to provide services to passengers once the railway is operational, a senior government official has said.
Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr Lattanamany Khounnivong told Vientiane Times this week that the developers of the project are conducting the survey.
The Lao and Chinese governments have established a joint venture company to develop the US$6.04 billion project with the Chinese side investing 70 percent of the project, while Laos is responsible for the remainder.
Construction of the project is set to take about five years to complete following groundbreaking on December 2, 2015.
Mr Lattanamany said the developers will look at ways to promote private businesses to invest into developing service businesses at the railway stations such as restaurants, hotels and other services.
He added that those service businesses in which the private sector is not interested in but are seen as necessary to provide services to passengers should be invested by the developers of the project.
“The real needs in relation to service businesses must be studied,” he said.
According to the plan, the railway composes 11 passenger stations. Two will be built in the Boten and Nateuy areas of Luang Namtha province. Three stations will be built in Oudomxay's Namor, Xay and Nga districts.
Two stations will be built in Luang Prabang and Xieng-ngeun districts in Luang Prabang province. Another three will be constructed in Kasy, Vangvieng and Phonhong districts of Vientiane province.
In Vientiane, the main passenger station will be built in Xay village, Xaythany district where the groundbreaking ceremony took place. A goods transportation station for the railway will also be built in Vientiane. With the railway stations to be built and located not far from the city centres where transport networks from the stations to the cities are available, Mr Lattanamany stated that there is no plan at the moment to build particular expressways between the stations and the cities.
“Transport networks are already available to enable passengers to commute between the cities and the stations,” he said, adding that expressways could be built in the longer-term when demand is sufficient to justify them. Developing service businesses at the railway stations is seen as necessary to provide services to a number of passengers expected to commute via the railway once it is operational.
A study has shown that the number of domestic passengers commuting through the Laos-China railway is expected to reach 3.98 million passengers a year once the project is operational.
The numbers of domestic passengers are forecast to rise further to 6.11 million passengers per year in the following years and spike further to 8.62 million passengers per year in the longer term.