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Railway vocational school project right on track

Thousands of local jobs will be created by the Laos-China railway when the project becomes operational in 2021, according to a senior government official.
The government is planning to build a Lao railway vocational technical college with the assistance of the Chinese government to train and supply professional railway personnel for the project.

Deputy Minister of Education and Sports, Associate Professor Dr Kongsy Sengmany, told Lao media yesterday that the college is in the design stage and will be finalised soon.
“We are currently waiting for the project design from China and think project construction will commence by the end of the year.”
He said construction of the facility, to be located near the National Stadium in Vientiane, would take two years.
The Ministry of Education and Sports has sent more than 30 teachers for training in China as part of preparations for the new Lao railway vocational technical college.
“One km of the railway will require 15 people - including engineers and technicians for internal services and computers,” he said. Mr Kongsy said the vocational technical college would help prepare skilled labourers and ensure local people could be employed in the US$5.9 billion railway project that will link Vientiane to the Laos-China border.
Laos and China signed a memorandum of understanding in September last year for a feasibility study to construct the Lao railway vocational technical college.
The project seeks to help Laos build a vocational technical college in the capital and develop skilled labour for the railroad project.
Once operational, the college will comprise six courses and will accept about 300 students a year. Students will learn all aspects relating to the running of railway machinery, including driving trains, services at stations, as well as electrical repairs and maintenance.
It is, however, still uncertain what languages will be employed at the train stations and who will be hired to sell the tickets.
The railway project which began construction in 2016 is now 60 percent complete and is scheduled to be operational by 2021. The line in Laos will connect with the track in Thailand to form a part of a regional rail link known as the Kunming- Singapore railway, covering a total distance of 3,000 km. Passenger trains will travel at a speed of 160 km per hour with rail freight at 120 km per hour. About 60 percent of the 414-km railway is made up of bridges and tunnels. The railway is an integral part of Laos’ ambition to move from being landlocked to land-linked.
This will result in lower production costs, attracting more traders, investors and tourists and enable Lao products to be competitive on the world market.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update July 4, 2019)

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