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New Bangkok to Beijing train trip gets closer

New Bangkok to Beijing train trip gets closer

Train travel between Bangkok and Beijing is edging closer with Thailand gearing up to expand its rail network.

A trial run connecting Bangkok and Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is scheduled for July 13 and 14, as per the announcement by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). Once operational, this new route will enhance transportation links between Thailand, Laos, and China, stated Ekarat Sriarayanphong, head of the SRT governor’s office.

The inauguration of the Thailand-Laos connection, facilitated by a new short link from Nong Khai, will enable travelers to journey by train from Bangkok to China’s capital, making stops in Vientiane and the southern Chinese city of Kunming, where a separate semi-high-speed service to Beijing is available. The approximately 3,200-kilometre trip, despite the challenging mountainous terrain along the route, will consume nearly a full day, in contrast to the just under five hours required for a non-stop flight.

A Nikkei report highlights an existing high-speed train between China and Laos, providing a pathway for Thai goods to be transported via rail to Kunming. This development has significantly reduced delivery times to China from two days, as it takes for trucks to navigate the mountainous terrain, to just 15 hours.

Thailand is keen on enhancing its connectivity with China, its primary trading partner, aiming to bolster economic growth, which currently trails behind that of its regional counterparts. According to government data, Thailand’s exports to China amounted to nearly $32 billion in the first 11 months of the previous year, with top products including fruit and rubber. Imports from China during the same period were valued at $65.3 billion, with electric equipment and machinery leading the imports.

Beyond trade, Thailand and China are fostering closer ties in the tourism sector. Chinese visitors can stay in Thailand for up to 60 days, while Thai tourists can enjoy a 30-day stay in China.

The tourism sector is poised for further growth with the anticipated completion, albeit delayed, of a high-speed rail project linking Thailand to China through Laos by 2028.

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