China announced last week that construction workers have laid the last piece of a railway that will link southwest China’s Yunnan province with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.
The Yuxi-Mengzi Railway has a total length of 141 km with a designed maximum speed of 120 km per hour. It passes through 35 tunnels and crosses 61 bridges, which together account for 54.95% of the line’s total length.
Funded by the Ministry of Railways and the Yunnan government, the railway has a total investment of 4.5 billion yuan (over 709 million US dollars).
The railway is expected to become operational later this year and will boost land transportation between China and ASEAN countries.
The eastern route is designed to start in Kunming, capital of Yunnan, and pass through the cities of Yuxi, Mengzi and Hekou in Yunnan to connect with Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore, building the Singapore-Kunming Railway Link and developing the cooperation in the region.
Participation of UIC in the Greater Mekong Subregion
Following the meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Subregional Transport Forum held in Nanning, China in December 2010 where UIC was invited by the Asian Development Bank, UIC was requested to share its experience on global rail development issues, its focus areas and development of UIC’s regional functioning.
The GMS cooperation is an initiative of the ADB aiming at regional cooperation and economic development. One of the priority actions of the region is to get connected via a rail network system by 2020. This will require an agreement on common technical standards, harmonisation of procedures, building missing links and supporting the network by establishing a GMS rail coordination office. ADB is preparing technical assistance for the preparation of a business and operating plan for the coordination office and has sought the expert opinion of UIC on the issue.
In the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in April 2012 between UIC and the Asian Development Bank, UIC proposes to assist in the bank’s technical review of rail projects and also share with its members the lending plan of other banks. Among the most important points, there is the need to adopt common axle load standards, maximum moving dimensions and the wagon leasing market for the GMS region.
During the Ministerial Conference on Transport held in Bangkok in March 2012, UIC stressed the need for the region to develop sufficient rail infrastructure to cope with substantial growth in container traffic by developing expertise in PPPs to overcome the challenge of the budgetary constraints being faced.