VIENTIANE, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- The first train of the China-Laos Railway bound for China left here on Friday afternoon soon after the railway was officially put into operation.
Among the cargo loaded on the train are potash products manufactured by a China-Lao joint venture named Sino-Agri International Potash Company.
"We are honored to ship our products through the first train bound for China. The opening of the railway will help boost the potassium production in Laos and its exportation," the company's general manager Tong Yongheng told Xinhua on Friday.
The 1,035-kilometer electrified passenger and cargo railway, connecting Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province with the Lao capital Vientiane, fully adopts Chinese technical standards and consists of two sections.
Construction of the section in Laos from the border town of Boten to Vientiane started in December 2016, and construction of the China section of the railway linking the city of Yuxi and the border town of Mohan started in December 2015.
"The opening of the Laos-China Railway is what the Lao people have expected for decades and a demonstration of the relationship between the two countries," Xay Manithong, a local lab technician of the company told Xinhua.
As a docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub, the railway is of great significance to bilateral economic, social and cultural exchanges as well as the regional connectivity.
"With the operation of the railway, our company is also embracing better development opportunities, and our staff and local people's lives will also turn better," said the 39-year-old Xay.
With a maximum operating speed of 160 km per hour, the running time from Kunming to Vientiane takes about 10 hours, including customs clearance time.
According to Tong, the company's annual 1-million-ton potassium production line has entered the pilot phase recently in Khammouane Province of the central Laos.
"Our company now is eyeing the second and the third 1-million-ton production lines. We are to produce more high-tech products and employ more local people," said Tong.
Li Mufan, deputy general manager of the Yunnan Rubber Investment Company under China's Yunnan State Farms Group, felt the same as Tong.
Li's company has been engaged in replacement plantation in Laos since 2005 and the train bound for China has also carried the company's rubber products made in Laos.
"We have invested over 150 million U.S. dollars in Laos, building 21 rubber plantations and three rubber processing factories. The operation of the railway will greatly improve the two peoples' exchange and goods transportation so as to benefit the bilateral trade," said Li.
The two companies' staff hope the companies' development to better serve the local people.
"(My company) has built schools, roads and gifted fertilizer to local community, besides providing nearly 1,000 jobs each year. Our project has also become a major source of local revenue," said Xay.
"Personally, I hope my family will have the chance to ride on the railway to visit China and enjoy the scenery along the way."
Xay's colleague, Chammala Shengsouly, who was born in the remote province of Phongsaly in Laos, now lives in Vientiane.
"My company's investment increases the local employment, and for me, the better income helps me buy a house in Vientiane, like many other colleagues," said the 41-year-old woman.
She looks forward to seeing more Lao products to be exported to China via the railway, which she believes will enhance Laos' reputation and influences in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and around the world.
For Vou Chanthaxay, 31, a local worker of the Yunnan Rubber Investment Company, the railway has already brought considerable changes to himself and his hometown.
"Years ago, the people could barely make a living by growing upland rice but not rubber in my hometown, and there were even people growing poppy in some remote villages. The Yunnan Rubber Investment Company came to build nice plantations here, with full access of tap water, electricity and road."
Now, Vou has earned a monthly income of 2.5 million kip (200 U.S. dollars) to 5 million kip (over 400 U.S. dollars) by working for the rubber company.
"On this special day, I made a wish that I can travel by this railway to visit China with my family someday," said Vou. Enditem