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Laos' ambitious railway plans

放大字体  缩小字体 Post date:2013-04-25  来源:Radio Australia  Views:69
Tips:The intention is to move from a situation of no rail network at all, to a position where lines will criss-cross the coun
 The intention is to move from a situation of no rail network at all, to a position where lines will criss-cross the country linking Laos to China, Vietnam and Thailand.
 
The cost will be enormous $7.2 billion for the link from the capital Vientiane to the Chinese border alone, and economists predict the project could bankrupt Laos.
 
So how realistic is the project?
 
Presenter: Richard Ewart
 
Speaker: Associate Professor Philip Laird, University of Wollongong, inaugural National Chairman of the Railway Technical Society of Australasia
 
LAIRD: It's early days yet, it's a proposal that's moving forward and if it gets some external help, for example, from China, it may well proceed. And China, in the last five years has made an enormous expansion of railways on four fronts: that's High Speed Rail, Metro Rail, Rail Freight, and Go West. And so it might well be that some Chinese interests are quite happy to build railways in neighbouring countries.
 
EWART: Now, my understanding is that picking up on that point that there is substantial Chinese money already tied up in this project in Laos. But the Asian Development Bank have come out and said they're not interested, it's just too expensive, this is going to bankrupt Laos. So would China want to be involved in a project which potentially could fall over?
 
LAIRD: Well, it depends on the prospective traffic. If there's good mineral traffic to be held and some of which may go into China, then that will add to the incentive to offset the cost and the risks involved to the government of Laos. So it's early days yet for that particular project, but there is a lot of railway expansion happening in Asia in the last 10 years and more is projected.
 
EWART: And as I understand it, the ASEAN Group of which Laos is a member, they are very keen to have essentially rail links throughout all the countries in that grouping. So I suppose this project would certainly fit that idea?
 
LAIRD: Again, there's lots of expansion of rail in Asia. Take, for example, only two months ago, the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the Prime Minister of Singapore entered into an agreement to build a high speed link between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. There's another example, other examples say going back 10 years ago, include both China and Korea developing and expanding high speed rail networks and Japan has also continued to expand its Shinkansen network in the last 10 years with more being rolled out in the next three years.
 
EWART: Is there a danger though that the rate of expansion could be too rapid? I mean China, of course, has certainly had its problems, there've been some bad crashes be it essentially down to rushing infrastructure.
 
LAIRD: I think it's certainly the expansion in China has been enormous, but then, in railways. But it's perhaps a matter of not so much that they are too ahead, but in some states in Australia, we are really a bit behind. And take, for example, in China, in 1995, Shanghai had the beginning of one Metro line, now it has over 12 and it's a vital part of moving people around a very large city.
 
Now if you look and see what Sydney's going since 1995, it's not very impressive at all.
 
EWART: And we, of course, we had news last week of plans for a substantial link going from Melbourne, through Sydney and up to Brisbane. But they reckon it would take about 40 years to build that line. I mean is that an example of how Australia is lagging behind? I mean should it really take that long in this day and age to build a railway which you'd think was pretty important to a country like Australia?
 
LAIRD: Well, I think it's a long time to wait. But on the other hand, this Hume Highway, the reconstruction of the Hume Highway was underway by two state governments in the 1960s, got a real kick along from the Whitlam government in 1974, who founded a national highway system and yet from 1974 to 2013, we're its finally rolled out with the Holbrook Bypass, there's 39 years elapsed. But I think it's fair to say that in some cases we study, whilst others build.
 


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