A train carrying 33 refrigerated containers departs from the Tengjun International Land Port in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, for Laos, Dec. 4, 2021. It is the first train involved in cold-chain logistics on the 1,035-km China-Laos Railway, a landmark project of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, which started operation on last Friday. (Xinhua)
KUNMING, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Nantawat Samakom, a Thai food trader based in a mall in downtown Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, has new expectations as the China-Laos Railway started operation on Friday.
"Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it often takes more than one month to transport goods from Thailand to China and the shipping costs are too expensive," Nantawat Samakom said.
"I'm looking forward to transporting my goods to China via the China-Laos Railway, which could be much faster and cheaper," he added.
The electrified passenger and freight railway runs 1,035 km, including 422 km in Laos, from the city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan, to Lao capital Vientiane.
"The opening of China-Laos Railway will promote the economic and social development of China and Laos, and accelerate the construction of the China-Laos Economic Corridor and the community of a shared future between the two sides," said Ma Yong, head of the institute of Southeast Asian Studies in the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences (YASS).
"It will also promote regional integration in Southeast Asia and the Mekong Region and promote regional prosperity and development," Ma added.
Jinma-Zhengchang fruit market in Kunming is one of the country's largest wholesale markets of imported fruits from Southeast Asia. Tropical fruits imported from Thailand, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, such as durian, mangosteen and longan, are very popular among Chinese customers and will be sent to all parts of the country from here every day.
"Fruits bear a short shelf life. And everybody wants faster logistics so as to ensure the quality of the fruits," said Tan Min, a fruit dealer at the market.
"It goes faster by railway, so we have very high expectations about the operation of the China-Laos Railway," Tan added.
"The operation of the China-Laos Railway also inspires people in neighboring countries to expect much for interconnection and intercommunication. It marks a crucial step for the trans-Asian railway network, which has been brewing for more than half a century," said Yu Haiqiu, head of the institute of Thailand Studies with YASS.
"I now can go home by train through the China-Laos Railway to meet friends and family," said Latsamee Khounsouvanh, a doctoral student at Yunnan Normal University from Vientiane. ■